Ultrasonic Cleaner Efficiently Removes Residues from Machined Parts

The 7.4-gallon Elmasonic S 300 H available from Tovatech is ideally suited for cleaning metal parts when used with a mildly alkaline solution concentrate containing a rust inhibitor.

The 7.4-gallon Elmasonic S 300 H available from Tovatech is ideally suited for cleaning metal parts when used with a mildly alkaline solution concentrate containing a rust inhibitor.

Grinding dust, metal shavings, polishes, lubricants, powder residues and coolant residues are part and parcel to the operation of metalworking and machine shops, but must be removed before parts pass to further processing steps such as the coating line or for electroplating. By putting an ultrasonic cleaner to work, machine shop owners no longer have to spend hours soaking then scrubbing these parts using potentially dangerous solvents.

An ultrasonic cleaner tank containing a biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning solution along with a rust inhibitor is the fastest and safest method to thoroughly clean stamped, cast and machined parts because, unlike manual methods, the cleaning action penetrates any surface that can be reached by the solution.

The cleaning action is produced by the unit’s ultrasonic generator, which is connected to ultrasonic transducers bonded to the bottom of the cleaning tank.  When the unit is turned on the transducers create hundreds of thousands of microscopic bubbles in the cleaning solution.  These implode when they come in contact with parts being cleaned, including tiny crevices and blind holes impossible to reach by hand scrubbing.

This force, called cavitation action, quickly strips away all contaminants without damaging the parts.* Oily contaminants that rise to the surface of the solution can be skimmed off and disposed of in a proper manner.  Other contaminants are captured by filters.  Both steps help extend the life of the ultrasonic cleaning solution.  And when it comes time to replace the solution, it can be safely disposed of in sanitary drains.

Ultrasonic Cleaning Equipment

Ultrasonic cleaning equipment such as manufactured by Elma and offered through Tovatech comes in several sizes from tabletop units for smaller parts to industrial-size floor models.

Several features are available to improve the efficiency of an ultrasonic cleaning cycle for metal parts. For example a degassing mode removes entrained air from new cleaning solutions that otherwise interferes with the cavitation process.  A sweep mode insures a more homogeneous power distribution in the bath for better cleaning results.  A temperature control allows the solution to reach the optimum cleaning temperature before cavitation starts, and units can be equipped with a timer so that they do not have to be continually monitored by personnel.

* Most ultrasonic cleaners operate at 37 kHz, which is ideal for operations described here.  Polished aluminum surfaces with mirror finishes should be cleaned at a higher frequency to avoid damage to the finish.  Consult your ultrasonic equipment vendor.


How does your metalworking shop clean parts for further processing? What solvents do you use and how long does the cleaning operation take?

About Bob Sandor

Bob began working as a chemist in 1987 and remains a science geek to this day. After his PhD he worked on the bench in materials and inorganic chemistry for 10 years. He then took on a love for marketing and sales. He combined his passion for science and business and took entrepreneur general management positions in large corporations like Hoecsht Celanese now Sanofi Aventis, Bel-Art and Smiths Detection. There he learned what it would take to run a business and finally Tovatech was co-founded in 2006. Bob’s hobbies include playing, listening and composing music, skiing, working out, the internet and all things science. Read More