What uses for ultrasonic cleaners?
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  1. #1
    Damien W is offline Stainless
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    Aug 2006
    Brisbane, Queensland


    I noticed in the general forum the thread I previously read about ultrasonic cleaners and solvents added to help the process.

    I know often if you have related questions they can often be unanswered perhaps because they are considered off topic and rude and seeking to hijack the thread. On the other hand if many posts appear to have given fair treatment to the question asked why not introduce related issues?

    After all that preliminary window-dressing the questions are;
    With so many responses there must be a lot of ultrasonic cleaners in use but no one said how or for what purpose or on what parts the cleaners are used so I would like to know how these units are used in industry.

    In my experience I know of two applications for an ultrasonic cleaner, the first was in my drawing classes where I learned they were effective in dislodging dried ink in drawing pens and the second application was in a shop that refilled printer cartridges.

    I imagine an ulrasonic cleaner might be useful in cleaning carburetters and other small components. I don't imagine such a device would be used on large or heavy components or those with a heavy buildup of filth, grease and oil.

  2. #2
    Tom Lg's Avatar
    Tom Lg is offline Cast Iron
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    May 2006
    Costa Mesa CA USA


    <there must be a lot of ultrasonic cleaners in use but no one said how or for what purpose or on what parts the cleaners are used so I would like to know how these units are used in industry.>

    We're making specialized surgical instruments and tools. After the machining processes are complete we clean the parts in an ultrasonic bath of solvent-free, phosphate-free (be nice to Flipper and the surfers) biodegradable detergent solution, then rinse them in two successive ultrasonic distilled water baths, then a final ultrasonic rinse in alcohol, then dry them in a warm oven. It's a rig about the size of a microwave oven, but I've seen bigger.

  3. #3
    L Vanice is offline Diamond
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    Feb 2006
    Fort Wayne, IN


    Jewelry cleaning: Removes soap scum, grease and buffing compound.

    Clock and watch cleaning, or any fine mechanism: Removes oil, grease, and dirt and brightens brass parts.


  4. #4
    Peter Neill is offline Hot Rolled
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Suffolk, England


    I used to run an optical coating business and we used these extensively for cleaning substrates prior to thin film coating.
    Usually 100% isopropyl alcohol or pet ether was used as the medium.

    I've got a small (12"x6"x6") tank in the workshop, tucked away under the bench.
    Very good for cleaning carbs as you mentioned, also use it for cleaning up clogged india stones, and once used it for freeing up a rusted/seized small chuck.


  5. #5
    Lew Hartswick is offline Hot Rolled
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    Dec 2003
    Albuquerque, NM USA


    Eye glasses Gets rid of the crud that build up
    around the lenses and the nose peices very well.
    ...lew... (has worn since 6yrs old now 74)

  6. #6
    Mike Folks is offline Cast Iron
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    Aug 2004
    Springfield Mo


    Metal model train engines and cars: Gets the item extremely clean for painting. A website for the smaller ultrasonic cleaners can be found at www.micromark.com

  7. #7
    joeby is offline Cast Iron
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    Mar 2006
    Central PA


    We use them for cleaning molds. Purple cleaner from the auto parts store works well for loosening rust and removing resin. Also works well for removing lapping compound from small holes and such.
    I drop parts in it right out of the EDM, gets rid of the oil.


  8. #8
    old-biker-uk's Avatar
    old-biker-uk is offline Cast Iron
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    Jan 2001
    Somerset, England


    A bit OT but in my museum lab. I used an U/S cleaner for things as diverse as dirty corals and mineral specimens to bones for skeletal mounts which had either been boiled or cleaned with enzymes. Did sneak the odd motorbike part in when no one was looking !

  9. #9
    Claude Wright is offline Cast Iron
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    Oct 2003
    Fern Creek, Kentucky, USA


    Used in some gunshops to clean guns.
    Not mine I use a parts washer and by hand.

  10. #10
    Sander's Avatar
    Sander is offline Hot Rolled
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    Aug 2006
    New York


    Ultrasonics are great for cleaning plastics with the right detergent and water.

  11. #11
    Skeeter is offline Aluminum
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    Dec 2002
    Marshall, Tx USA


    Lots of uses. I clean jewerly, eye glasses, small parts. I wear partials plates (teeth) and I put them in a small jar with their on cleaner and set in the ultrasonic for about 10 minutes each week. They get brushed twice a day each day also.

    Anything else that will fit in the tank.

  12. #12
    adama is offline Diamond
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    Dec 2004


    when i was leaving school i went to a interview at a fiber optic coupling manufacturer, they were using several to clean very complex, internal and externaly threaded parts in just about any matirial u could imagine. there iso 9000 stuff required them to then be inspected under very high magnification (electron microscope) for cleanlyness. they put as much effort in ensuring product cleanlyness at the end of production as they did in the actual production. for the size company they were it was very impressive. regretably they hit financial difficulties just after i was offered a position but before i started :-(

  13. #13
    MitsTech is offline Stainless
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    Feb 2006
    Newtown, PA USA


    Extremely useful for cleaning nearly ANYTHING with a lot of irregular surfaces or internal features that would be time consuming or impossible to clean manually.

    The only limits to what you can clean with an ultrasonic is will it fit in the tank, will it melt, will whatever detergant is in the tank destroy my part? For example, you wouldn't want to clean aluminum with a hydrochloric acid bath, but hydrochloric acid works great on stainless and ceramics.

    They are also very useful for doing heavy cleaning on parts with delicate features or critical surfaces. I use them daily with a phosphoric acid solution for removing hardened up steel and brass debris from wire EDM components. Done manually, your only options are wire wheel or glass beader. But 5 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaner with some acid has them looking factory new with no damage.

  14. #14
    rivett608's Avatar
    rivett608 is offline Diamond
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    Oct 2002
    Kansas City, Mo.


    I use mine to clean up after soldering........ and my wife's jewelry.

  15. #15
    Too_Many_Tools is offline Stainless
    Join Date
    May 2003


    Talking about "tiny bubbles".....

    'Tiny Bubbles' singer Don Ho dies at 76 By JAYMES SONG, Associated Press Writer

    Legendary crooner Don Ho, who entertained tourists for decades wearing raspberry-tinted sunglasses and singing the catchy signature tune "Tiny Bubbles," has died. He was 76.

    He died Saturday morning of heart failure, publicist Donna Jung said.

    Ho had suffered with heart problems for the past several years, and had a pacemaker installed last fall. In 2005, he underwent an experimental stem cell procedure on his ailing heart in Thailand.

    Ho entertained Hollywood's biggest stars and thousands of tourists for four decades. For many, no trip to Hawaii was complete without seeing his Waikiki show — a mix of songs, jokes, double entendres, Hawaii history and audience participation.

    Shows usually started and ended with the same song, "Tiny Bubbles." Ho mostly hummed the song's swaying melody as the audience enthusiastically took over the familiar lyrics: "Tiny bubbles/in the wine/make me happy/make me feel fine."

    "I hate that song," he often joked to the crowd. He said he performed it twice because "people my age can't remember if we did it or not."

    The son of bar owners, Ho broke into the Waikiki entertainment scene in the early 1960s and, except for short periods, never left. Few artists are more associated with one place.

    "Hawaii is my partner," Ho told The Associated Press in 2004.

    Donald Tai Loy Ho, who was Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and German, was born Aug. 13, 1930, in Honolulu and grew up in the then-rural countryside of Kaneohe.

    In high school, he was a star football player and worked for a brief time in a pineapple cannery. After graduating in 1949, he attended Springfield College in Massachusetts on an athletic scholarship. He grew homesick, returned to the islands and ended up graduating from the University of Hawaii in 1953 with a degree in sociology.

    Inspired by the U.S. military planes flying in and out of Hawaii during World War II, Ho joined the Air Force. As the Korean War wound down, he piloted transport planes between Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu and Tokyo.

    When he returned home and took over his parents' struggling neighborhood bar, Honey's, he put together a band and started performing at his father's request.

    "I had no intention of being an entertainer," Ho said. "I just played songs I liked from the radio, and pretty soon that place was jammed. Every weekend there would be lines down the street."

    Honey's became a happening place on Oahu, with other Hawaiian musicians stopping in for jam sessions. Ho began to play at various spots in Hawaii, then had a breakout year in 1966, when appearances at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood helped him build a mainland following, and the release of "Tiny Bubbles" gave him his greatest recording success.

    Soon he was packing places such as the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Stars such as Lucille Ball, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra were known to be in the audience for Ho's shows.

    Ho also became a television star, and hosted the "The Don Ho Show" on ABC from 1976-77. One of Ho's most memorable TV appearances was a 1972 cameo on an episode of "The Brady Bunch."

    "I've had too much fun all these years," he said in the 2004 interview. "I feel real guilty about it."

    Besides "Tiny Bubbles," his other well-known songs include "I'll Remember You," "With All My Love," and the "Hawaiian Wedding Song."

    In the final years of his life, Ho's heart problems couldn't keep him away from the stage. He was back performing at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel on a limited schedule less than two months after his heart procedure in Thailand. His final performance was Thursday, Jung said.

  16. #16
    EPAIII is online now Titanium
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Beaumont, TX, USA


    They can clean almost anything that will fit in them. You need to be a bit careful about the effect of the cleaning solution used and the finish on the part. Some solvents can remove paint and some will discolor certain finishes. I keep several jugs of cleaners for different purposes. Electronic cleaner for circuit boards, general purpose cleaner, etc.

    I installed a drain fitting and a ball valve with a piece of flexible tubing to facilitate draining the tank. I just put the empty jug on the floor and put the tube in it and open the valve. Tilt tank to get the final drops. A clear water flush to remove the sediment. Then feed new solvent into tank from above.

    I need to figure out a place for a filter in this setup.

    It is nice to be able to let the ultrasonic do the near perfect cleaning job that may have taken me a half hour by hand, if I could even do it so well.

  17. #17
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    peekskill, NY


    In industry?

    We have a cleaning room with two ultrasonic
    tank setups.

    The older one is for rough cleaning, the first
    tank is an alkaline detergent (penesolve) that
    is very good for removing grease or dirt from
    machine parts, or from removing cutting fluid
    residue from parts before they go for welding.

    Nobody ever puts vehicle parts in there. Ever.
    Except when maybe the solvent is ready to be
    changed anyway, and it looks like somebody's
    already dumped an entire whole lawnmower in
    there. Or maybe an un-drained diffusion pump.

    The second setup is much newer, and it likewise
    has a first penesolve tank. But the solvent is
    sparged (taken over a wier) and oil is removed
    by a skimmer. The solvent is constantly
    recirculated through filters by pumps to keep
    it clean.

    Then there is a spray-down tank so the parts
    are moved along down the line. The spray removes
    any solvent before the next tank.

    Tank three is a clean DI water rinse (also with
    ultrasonic action) and then from there the fourth
    tank is a cleaner DI water rinse. The water from
    the fourth tank flows over into the third.

    The next tank is air-blow and then the final one
    is a heated air blower tank.

    All of the full immersion tanks have ultrasonic
    action and all of the fluids are kept just below
    the boiling point with heaters. This serves
    to enhance the cavitation action but also has
    the important effect that by the time your parts
    come out of the final rinse tank, they are
    screamingly hot and will just about flash dry in
    air in moments. No chasing droplets around with
    an air gun blowing oily air at the parts.

    The real use for the fancy ultrasonic setup is
    to prep parts for ultra high vacuum service.
    We used to use a freon-based vapor phase degreaser
    and while it worked great the decision was to get
    away from the CFCs and so the ultrasonic based
    one was installed.


  18. #18
    CarbideBob is offline Titanium
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    Jan 2007
    Flushing/Flint, Michigan


    Cleaning cutting tools prior to coating.

  19. #19
    Access Db Guy is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Norfolk, VA


    If you decide to use an ultrasonice cleaner to do jewelry, read this.

    a. Assuming the tank is about a quart in size, add a teaspoon of household ammonia to the warm water - it makes the water "wetter," thus help get into them small spots.

    b. Never, I say again, NEVER place the following into an ultrasonic cleaner. The machine will give you some very expensive chips and dust.

    1. Emeralds
    2. Opals
    3. Pearls
    4. Composit diamonds or other composit jewels. That means 1850s~1940s stones where the top is real and the underlaying base is glass or something else.

    Stan Db

  20. #20
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    peekskill, NY


    Also there is some issue with ball bearings.

    I've heard it's not good to ultrasonic them.

    I've done this for bearings I wanted to clean,
    that were clearly filthy and worn. And I've
    done this with small wheel bearings.

    When doing it I tend to ultrasonic them a bit,
    let them sit in the warm solvent, ultrasonic for
    a few more seconds, etc.

    But I would avoid that for precision spindle
    bearings, especially new ones.


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