Guest Editorial -For                                                 

 Don Baudrand, Don Baudrand Consulting,

Doís and Doníts of Using Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaning provides excellent cleaning if items to be electro plated, electroless plating, painting and other coatings. It is efficient and can be up to 90% faster than other cleaning processes, including alkaline soak, electrolytic anodic, cathodic, or spray washing, etc. Ultrasonic cleaning can be up to 90% faster and more thorough.

Properly used, the cavitation can removed contaminants that cannot be cleaned by other cleaning processes. Ultrasonic work by creating micro bubbles by means of transducers that vibrate under electrical energy at high rate, faster than sound waves, 18,000 waves per second, above the hearing frequency. These bubbles formed break releasing a large amount of energy that can blast soils off a surface. This process is called cavitation. The cavitation takes place in every area of the solution, therefore resulting in the ability to clean inside small cavities, tubes, small holes etc. as well as outer surfaces. Cleaning takes place on all areas the sound the energy can reach. Cleaning takes place without operator intervention. It is usual to include cleaning chemicals that can help cleaning to and tie up or soaponified soils so that they can be rinsed away. There are cleaners formulated to work with ultrasonic systems.

Decline in cleaning ability of the ultrasonic system occurs when the cleaning tank temperature rises toward the boiling point. The higher temperature causes higher vapor pressure that the cavitation bubbles loose energy and do not implode effectively. Over loading of the items can cause blocking of the cleaning chemicals and ultrasonic cavitation dose not reach some areas of the parts.

Cleaning time in ultrasonic is short, a few minutes. If longer time is required to clean, it may be to over-loading or the transducers are not positioned properly, or blocking occurs. Donít use plastic tanks or plastic coated racks. The energy is dissipated in contact with anything flexible. Damping of the ultrasonic energy occurs and the energy canít reach the areas to be cleaned.


Combine ultrasonic energy with the correct cleaning agent to achieve rapid thorough cleaning in a short time.

Use the correct container: stainless steel, such as 305 SS or Pyrex glass for small sizes,

Dump and replace water and cleaning chemicals more frequently than the usual hot alkaline cleaning compounds.


Overload the tank when using ultrasonic cleaning. The result may lessen the cleaning ability in holes or recessed areas due to blocking of the transducers.

Use plastic tanks or plastic lined tanks for ultrasonic cleaning.

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