Ultrasonic Cleaning Working Principals

The basic principal behind how ultrasonic cleaners work is that they create bubbles which implode, creating a vacuum which attracts dirt particles away from the surface they’re on. The rest of the process described here is just what happens in order for that to take place.

Operation of Ultrasonic Cleaners

Ultrasonic cleaners use water which is heated and pressurised to produce millions of tiny, microscopic bubbles. The bubbles then collapse in on themselves – implode – which creates millions of tiny vacuums. This process is known as cavitation. One of the first rules of science is that nature abhors a vacuum so something has to fill it, thus any small particles of dirt or debris are sucked into the space that the bubbles occupied and drawn away from the surface they were dirtying.

The process is identical to what happens when the propellor of a boat cuts through the water churning it up and leaving a white trail of foam in its wake. The word cavitation itself is derived from the cavities that are left by the collapse of the bubbles. The main difference between ship’s propellor bubbles and those from an ultrasonic cleaner is there are millions of times more bubbles from the cleaner and they’re many times faster and more powerful.

The cleaning action produced by the ultrasonic waves is highly efficient, the bubbles work their way into every possible corner or crevice no matter how small or awkward or complex the contour such as screw threads and blind holes. When they come into contact with the item which is submerged in the tank, they gently ease contamination from the surface using the power of millions of rapid, tiny vacuums being created and collapsing every second.

The operating principal of the cleaning machines is that they generally use electro-mechanical transducers which in essence are devices which convert electrical energy to mechanical energy. The electrical energy is provided by a power source end the transducers translate this into vibration. The vibration produced sends out sound waves which agitate the water and produce the bubbles known as cavitation.

Applications of Ultrasonic Cleaners

Ultrasonic cleaning applications can be roughly subdivided into two types of operation, inside a tank and outside a tank. Ultrasonic cleaning tanks are generally small in size for domestic and light commercial use and used for example in cleaning jewelry. Larger sized industrial tanks are also in operation and these can be used for cleaning larger items like the internals of ovens, car parts etc. The other distinct branch of ultrasonic cleaning uses portable cleaning machines to clean in situ, this is for situations where it would be hard or impossible to deposit the object in a tank. Examples of this type of cleaning include window blinds that are fixed in place, tiled floors etc. Other common applications for ultrasonic cleaning are musical instruments, medical and dental equipment, vinyl records and antiques.

Benefits of Ultrasonic Cleaners

There are several benefits of using ultrasonic cleaning compared to any conventional method.

  • The cleaning water by its nature will fully cover any surface to be cleaned no matter how inaccessible. This ensures a thorough overall deep clean of any object placed in the cleaner.
  • The cleaning process is gentle and unobtrusive and will not damage the surface of the object being cleaned. The process is no more damaging than being bathed in water.
  • Objects can be combined in the same cleaning operation, there is no need to segregate them. As the same cleaning process is being applied to all of the objects you can put multiple different types to be cleaned in at the one time with at the same excellent results.
  • Somewhat similar to the point above, the ultrasonic cleaner ensures a consistent level of deep clean that does not rely on the ability of the operator, the machine will do the job and achieve perfect results every time.
  • Alternative methods of cleaning such as spraying liquids, brushing or agitation cannot compete with ultrasonic cleaning. Sprays using high pressure steam aren’t capable of dislodging contamination secreted in blind corners, the spray can only clean what is in front of it. Most of the energy supplied to the spray is lost in the process and it is not a very efficient way to clean. Similarly with brushing, a brush can only get to the parts it can reach and no matter the size, shape or flexibility of the brush, it is always hampered by its physical dimensions.