Large Ultrasonic Cleaner Selection

Large Ultrasonic Cleaner Selection

A large ultrasonic cleaner is a close cousin to an industrial ultrasonic cleaner but is selected to clean (you guessed it!) large parts.  Or a large number of parts in the same cycle.  An obvious characteristic of large ultrasonic cleaners is cleaning tank dimensions (and therefore cleaning solution capacity) to accommodate the parts, either in size or number, that you need to clean.  We invite you to read this post for other important considerations in selecting a large ultrasonic cleaner.

If you’re not familiar with the power and versatility of ultrasonic cleaners, please take a few moments to review the 10 Tips for Selecting the Best Ultrasonic Cleaner.

Large Ultrasonic Cleaner Tank Dimensions

As suggested above, large parts and number of parts in a single cleaning cycle are key considerations in selecting a large ultrasonic cleaner.  These requirements distinguish them from benchtop industrial ultrasonic cleaners.

Two considerations apply when you specify cleaning tank dimensions.  Dimensions of product or number of products to be cleaned in a cycle, and how product(s) are immersed in the cleaning solution.

In all instances what is being cleaned cannot be in contact with the tank walls, bottom or immersed transducers if these are used….and, if cleaning multiple parts they should not be in contact with each other.   

Most ultrasonic cleaning is handled when parts are placed in baskets that are lowered into the cleaning solution.  Basket dimensions are less than tank dimensions.  Ultrasonic cleaner manufacturers can supply this information if not provided on their data sheets.

When baskets are impractical choose a large ultrasonic cleaner with racks integrated on the tank bottom  to support parts being cleaned or use an overhead crane to lower the part to the proper depth in the tank.

Cleaning Solution Capacity for Large Ultrasonic Cleaners

This is a consideration that must be satisfied before selecting your ultrasonic cleaning equipment.  It is aligned with the point described above.

The key consideration is that parts must be totally immersed in the cleaning solution. 

Large ultrasonic cleaners, as with their smaller cousins, are designed to properly and safely operate when filled with the cleaning solution.  “Filled” is usually indicated by a line or otherwise on the wall of the tank. 

This means you must accommodate displacement when parts are placed in the ultrasonic bath. 

Only you can figure this out based on experience.  Keep in mind that for best results:

  1. Fresh cleaning solutions should be “degassed” before you initiate cleaning operations. We cover this later in the post.
  2. Degassing should be accomplished when the tank is filled with fresh solution.
  3. You can draw off and store excess solution before initiating cleaning cycles that bring the solution up to the designated level.

Overfilled tanks slow cleaning, underfilled tanks can result in damage to your ultrasonic cleaner. 

Considerations when Purchasing a Large Ultrasonic Cleaner

What you are cleaning and the nature of contaminants are important considerations when purchasing a large ultrasonic cleaner.

Here are examples:

1.  Ultrasonic Frequency

Ultrasonic frequency is described in thousands of cycles per second.  This is covered in the “10 top tips” post linked above.

Lower frequencies such as 25 kHz produce vigorous sonic cleaning action recommended for heavily soiled rugged parts such as automotive engines and drive chain components.

As ultrasonic frequencies increase cavitation bubble size decrease and produce gentler cleaning action.  This is makes them more suitable for delicate or highly finished surfaces, and better able to penetrate small crevices, cracks and blind holes.

Some  large ultrasonic cleaner models offer dual frequencies – as described later – broadening their applicability to a variety of cleaning tasks.

2.  Ultrasonic Power

This is a rather complicated subject.  The ability to control ultrasonic power as well as frequency enables you to tailor the cleaning cycle to the particular products being cleaned. 

Too much power, as with too lower a frequency, can damage your products.   Ask our scientists for recommendations when using an ultrasonic cleaner offering variable power.  

3.  The “Sweep” Mode

Sweep provides a small ± variation in ultrasonic frequency.  This avoids what are called hot spots (too much), dead zones (no action) and harmonic vibration, the latter of which can damage delicate products such as printed circuit boards. 

Some cleaners offer (or only operate in) a “normal” or fixed frequency mode, without sweep.  In general, these cleaners are used for benchtop or research operations and are used in sonicator baths for  processing pharmaceuticals and similar tasks.

4. Degas and Pulse

As mentioned above, fresh cleaning solutions should be degassed before cleaning begins.  This process removes trapped air that reduces cleaning efficiency.  While operating the cleaner accomplishes this, a degas mode does it faster especially in large ultrasonic cleaners.

A “pulse” mode option provides intermittent spikes of very high ultrasonic power to remove stubborn contaminants.

5.  Cleaning Solution Maintenance

Contaminants removed during ultrasonic cleaning operations remain in the cleaning solution.  Depending on cleaning solution formulas, these contaminants may rise to the surface (demulsifying formulas) or remain in the solution (emulsifying formulas).

For more info on this see our post on selecting ultrasonic cleaning solutions

But note especially our inclusion of cautions on cleaning with flammable solvents discussed under examples of large ultrasonic cleaners.

Large ultrasonic cleaners require large amounts of cleaning solution and for this reason demulsifying formulations are typically used.  Removing these contaminants helps prolong cleaning solution life. 

These ultrasonic cleaners can be equipped with spray bars and weirs to direct floating contaminants into a collection system.  Others are or can be equipped with filters to remove contaminants and recycle the solution back into the cleaning tank. 

Otherwise it is a good practice to manually skim off floating contaminants and store them separately for disposal according to local regulations.

Elma xtra ST

Large Ultrasonic Cleaners 

Selecting an ultrasonic cleaner best for you is based on your particular requirements.  Here are a few examples of readily available units plus the option to design, with our help, a custom unit.

Elma ST Floor Mounted Ultrasonic Cleaners

The portable, 25/45 kHz Elma xtra ST large ultrasonic cleaners are offered in 7 tank sizes from 8 to 67 gallons.  These units are designed to  handle tasks ranging from coarse preliminary cleaning to fine cleaning.

Elma Flex 1

A special feature of these rugged ultrasonic cleaners is the dynamic Sweep/Pulse mode that alternates safe, even cleaning of sweep with powerful pulse to quickly remove tenacious contaminants.

Elma Flex Series Large Ultrasonic Cleaners

The dual frequency (25/45 or 35/130 kHz) Elma Flex Series ultrasonic cleaners available through Tovatech are offered as a single (Flex 1 for cleaning) and companion (Flex2 for rinsing) in capacities to 45 gallons.  Their special feature is a precise oscillation that has proved to yield cleaning cycle speeds by 20% depending on the particular cleaning requirement.

Shiraclean Large Ultrasonic Cleaners to 110 Gallons


Equipped with dual cartridge filtration and a weir and spray bar SHIRACLEAN ultrasonic cleaners from Tovatech are ideal for machine shops, solder flux removal, printing, electronics, 3-D mold support and a variety of laboratory applications including aerospace and auto restoration.

Custom Ultrasonic Cleaners

If an “off-the-shelf” cleaner does not satisfy your cleaning requirements, consider a custom-built unit available from Tovatech. 

Custom Ultrasonic Cleaner Example

Customization requires careful consideration of products being cleaned,  proper tank sizes, ultrasonic frequencies employed, bath temperatures, the dirt or contaminants being removed, balancing cleaning speed against cost,  the degree of automation desired,  selecting the correct ultrasonic cleaning solution, cleaning solution recovery and reuse, and safety issues relating to specialized cleaning solvents. 

A further introduction to custom ultrasonic cleaners is found on our website.

Cleaning with Flammable Solvents

Explosion-Proof Ultrasonic Cleaner

As referenced above, flammable solvents may be required when using ultrasonic cleaning for certain applications.  Flammable solvents pose significant restrictions on ultrasonic equipment and processes. 

If flammable solvents are called for when using a large ultrasonic cleaner explosion-proof units such as the SOL-XP provide an answer. Available in tank capacities to 33 gallons these units are designed for use in Class I Division 1 hazardous areas and carry an ETL/Intertek Certification. 

For more on this important topic see our post on cleaning with flammable solvents.

Ready to Purchase a Large Ultrasonic Cleaner

We hope this post is helpful when it comes to selecting a large ultrasonic cleaner.  Please contact the ultrasonic cleaner experts for expert advice.

About Rachel Kohn

So how did an MIT Ph.D. end up selling refrigerators? When I figured out that a lot more scientists buy lab refrigerators than innovative leading-edge instruments. I hope that my many years of lab experience will help you find the right equipment for your work. Before co-founding Tovatech I worked in business development and project management at Smiths Detection, Photon-X, Cardinal Health, and Hoechst Celanese. And before that I spent 12 years as an R&D chemist at Hoechst Celanese and Aventis working on advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Some day, eventually, I’ll make enough money to develop an innovative technology that will change the world. Read More