Industrial and commercial ultrasonic cleaners can represent a sizeable investment. The global market, including industrial ultrasonic cleaners, is expected to reach $2.43 billion by 2028 according to Data Bridge Market Research. The report states that this represents a CAGR of 5.85% between 2021 and 2028, and that “Rising industrialization and growth in the number of manufacturing industries will emerge as the major market growth driving factor.”
The information in this article will help you select the correct industrial ultrasonic cleaner.
Defining an Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner
The job to be done – not the size of the cleaner or items being cleaned – defines a commercial ultrasonic cleaner. Heavy-duty ultrasonic parts washing usually means long-term (multi-hour) cleaning cycles, which calls for more rugged construction including heavier gauge stainless steel cleaning tanks. These are available as benchtop and floor mounted units, which brings us to the first specification tip.
Make Sure your Unit will Handle the Parts
Purchase an industrial ultrasonic cleaner that will allow the largest parts to be fully immersed in the cleaning solution. Check what is called the working depth of an ultrasonic cleaner.
This is defined as the distance between the parts basket bottom or bottom rack and the surface of the cleaning solution.
If you use baskets to hold your parts keep in mind that they are slightly smaller than tank internal dimensions. If data sheets do not provide this information, ask the vendor.
How heavy are the parts? This will determine if they (1) are cleaned in baskets (2) are suspended from overhead or (3) rest on racks built into the tank bottom.
Do not overload the bath – efficiency drops off. You’ll get better results when cleaning several smaller batches than one large batch.
For best results parts should not be in contact with each other.
Use the Correct Ultrasonic Frequency
Ultrasonic cleaning occurs when billions of microscopic vacuum bubbles implode against surfaces being cleaned to blast loose and carry away contaminants.
Bubbles are created by generator-powered ultrasonic transducers bonded to the bottom (and sides in some models) of the industrial ultrasonic cleaner tank.
As they vibrate at frequencies measured in kilohertz (kHz or thousands of cycles per second) they cause the bottom of the tank to perform as a membrane, thus creating the bubbles.
- Lower frequencies such as 25 kHz produce larger cavitation bubbles. When these bubbles implode they release a larger amount of cleaning energy. For extremely dirty parts such as removing lapping abrasives or polishing paste, a lower frequency will be more effective.
- Higher frequencies produce smaller cavitation bubbles. These cover fine featured complex surfaces more thoroughly, penetrate blind holes and crevices and are more gentle than low frequencies.
Most ultrasonic parts washers operate between 35 and 45 kHz, a range well suited to most industrial ultrasonic cleaning tasks.
An example is the robust, 37 kHz benchtop Elma xtra-TT line in four capacities from 0.79 to 4.8 gallons designed for up to 8 hours of continuous operation.
When cleaning a variety of materials consider a dual-frequency ultrasonic cleaner. An example is the Elmasonic X-tra ST line in 7 tank sizes from 8 to 67 gallons. These powerful units can be set at 25 kHz for basic cleaning or 45 kHz for fine cleaning.
Another example for cleaning large parts is the 40 kHz SHIRACLEAN family of floor-mounted industrial ultrasonic cleaners in 5 models from 25 to 110 gallons.
If standard equipment offerings do not satisfy your needs, we offer customized industrial ultrasonic cleaners that can be constructed to meet your specific requirements. Tovatech scientists are ready to work with you to specify exactly what you need.
Ultrasonic Cleaning with Volatile Solvents
Ultrasonic cleaning using volatile solvents such as IPA, acetone and toluene require precautions including meeting local and national regulation to avoid fire and explosions. Ultrasonic cleaning equipment options that help you meet these requirements are found on our website page cleaning with flammable solvents.
Additional Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner Features
Unit size and operating frequency are two critical specification criteria. Other features that may be important in helping you do the job most efficiently include the following:
- Temperature controls let you set cleaning solution temperature to the level recommended by the cleaning solution manufacturer.
- Timers control the duration of the cleaning cycle. Some units are designed to start cavitation when the selected temperature is reached and shut down at the end of the cycle.
- Degas mode speeds the removal of trapped air in fresh cleaning solutions An alternative is allowing the equipment operate for a period of time without a load.
- Sweep provides a slight ± fluctuation in the ultrasonic frequency and serves to even out the cleaning action to avoid “hot spots” or possibly damaging cavitation action, “dead zones” or no cleaning action, and harmonic vibrations.
- Pulse mode boosts ultrasonic power up to 20% to remove stubborn contaminants.
- Dynamic mode optimizes cleaning results by automatically combining the sweep mode for uniform cleaning with the pulse mode that removes stubborn contaminants.
- Eco Mode provides gentle cleaning and a quieter operation, achieving a lower intensity cleaning cycle with sweep frequency.
- Oscillation, also called agitation, is precisely controlling the up-and-down movement (± 2 cm) of cleaning baskets to maximize the efficacy of the cavitation process. It is available as an option on the Elmasonic xtra ST series.
- While more ultrasonic power usually indicates faster and more effective cleaning, more power is not always better. Too much power can damage delicate items. If you are cleaning a variety of products adjustable power is a useful feature.
Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions and Maintenance
We hope the above information proves helpful as you select the industrial ultrasonic cleaner you need to meet your requirements.
But an equally critical consideration is the proper ultrasonic cleaning solution to do the job most efficiently.
Today’s biodegradable cleaning solution concentrates are a far cry from the environmentally unfriendly formulas used in the past. Check out our tips on selecting an ultrasonic cleaning solution.
Cleaning solution performance is extended when steps are taken to remove accumulated contaminants dislodged by the cleaning process. Maintenance procedures are described in user manuals. Larger industrial units may employ skimmers and filters to do the job.
For more information please check our post on ultrasonic cleaners and how they work.
Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner Applications
The extent and type of contamination (i.e. dirt, gunk, greases and oils) to be removed may require longer cleaning cycles, pointing to the selection of an industrial ultrasonic cleaner. The following examples provide you with greater detail on when and how these units are used:
- Automotive and power train cleaning and degreasing.
- Cleaning costly plastic injection molds to maintain quality output.
- Ultrasonic passivation for stainless steel to meet ASTM A967 standards.
- Safely remove 3-D printing mold support.
- Degreasing heavy parts.
- Nondestructive testing of aircraft engine parts.
Equipment Investment Considerations
Cost-benefit analyses are important to any investment in plant and equipment. When it comes to cleaning industrial parts – or any part for that matter – time saved to achieve desired results is an important consideration.
As a start, download our Pricing Guide offer to get an idea of the costs involved.
Before making your final decision, we encourage you to contact the scientists at Tovatech. We are ready to help you select the best industrial ultrasonic cleaner for your requirements, whether benchtop or floor mounted. Ask about the ultrasonic cleaner accessories that are available to add efficiency to your ultrasonic cleaning operations.