Put simply, Ultrasonic Cleaning is the use of sound waves to remove decontamination from surfaces. The part to be cleaned must be completely submerged in a tank of water (the ultrasonic cleaning tank) before the sound waves (ultrasonics) are applied.
Ultrasonic energy is introduced into the body of water via Transducers, these are specifically shaped blocks of metal that sandwich piezoelectric material. Piezoelectric materials have the amazing property of vibrating when an electric current is passed through them, and the transducer harnesses this effect and channels the vibrations through the metal blocks (See below).
Because the transducers run on electricity they are placed onto the outside of the cleaning tank and face inwards to transfer the vibrations into the tank. The vibration of the metal tank means that the entire base (or side) of the tank effectively emits ultrasonic energy into the body of water when the current is switched on. This is the ultrasonic energy which produces the cleaning effect.
The rapid oscillation of these sound waves within the tank causes microscopic implosions (cavitation) in the water. It is this effect which makes ultrasonic cleaning so effective. The cavitation bubbles act like microscopic scrubbing brushes all over the cleaning tank and remove dirt far more effectively than many other methods, without necessarily requiring chemicals. These bubbles / implosions create a large amount of heat but for a very tiny amount of time and when these implosions come into contact with the part that is submerged in the tank, it has a dramatic cleaning effect.
An additional benefit is that very complicated parts can be cleaned that perhaps have tiny holes and hard to reach areas that would otherwise be extremely difficult and time consuming to clean by other methods.
Ultrasonic cleaning has many benefits over traditional methods, they are summarised as follows:
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