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How Does Ultrasonic Cleaning Work? Find Out In Our Complete Guide

how does ultrasonic cleaning work

Ultrasonic cleaning is an essential part of Aztalan’s precise, full-service CNC parts and equipment manufacturing and assembly services, as it allows us to deliver finished metal products cleaned to the highest quality standards. Whereas other cleaning methods can lead to damage of parts and equipment in the long term, the ultrasonic cleaning process is unique in its ability to clean fragile and complexly-shaped parts both gently and effectively.

But how does ultrasonic cleaning work? How does it stack up against other industrial cleaning methods? And which parts or products are best cleaned by it? Find out answers to these questions and more in our complete guide to ultrasonic cleaning below.

Are you more interested in hearing about our metal machined parts and solutions? Connect with an expert now.

What Is Ultrasonic Cleaning?

Ultrasonic cleaning uses a de-ionized water solution activated by high-frequency, high-intensity sound waves to remove oil, residue, grime, and other contaminants from parts and equipment. It cleans down to the microscopic level, which makes it preferable over other methods that may miss cleaning these smaller details.

Popular alternatives for equipment and part cleaning are mechanical and chemical cleaning processes. Mechanical cleaning involves scrubbing, pushing, scraping, sucking, blowing, or other physical actions to remove dirt and other contaminants from a surface, through either dry or wet cleaning methods. Chemical cleaning involves applying chemicals to a surface that work at the molecular level, either combining with dirt and carrying it away or breaking apart the molecules of contaminants through cell destruction.

Unlike mechanical cleaning, ultrasonic cleaning happens much more quickly and efficiently, involving much less physical work and fewer man-hours. It is also considered to be more effective, as it reaches microscopic levels that a mechanical method would be likely to miss.

Ultrasonic cleaning is also considered to be less abrasive than both of its major alternatives, promoting longer-lasting equipment that is subjected to less wear and tear than administered by a harsher cleaning process. Non-caustic cleaning will ensure equipment integrity in the long term. Avoiding the use of caustic chemicals also means avoiding lengthy and inconvenient specialized hazardous material disposal processes.

How Does Ultrasonic Cleaning Work?

In the ultrasonic cleaning process, an external transducer unit produces high-frequency sound waves that create micron-sized bubbles in the water solution, called cavitation. The waves traveling through the solution create a cavity that eventually gets trapped as these bubbles, which are essential to the ultrasonic cleaning process.

Next, the size of the bubbles slowly gets larger and larger until it matches the transducer’s resonant frequency. The microscopic bubbles then implode near the surface of the material with enough force to dislodge dirt and other contaminants. This bubble-bursting process repeats to blast all oil, residue, and grime off of surfaces.

Since the bubbles in the ultrasonic cleaning process are small enough that they are not visible to the naked eye, they are able to successfully clean machinery at a microscopic level. This leads to a highly detailed cleaning with no chemical residue left behind, promoting part and equipment longevity.

Ultrasonic cleaning is particularly effective at cleaning machinery that has blind holes or cracks. The microscopic bubbles are able to reach incredibly tight spaces between parts to ensure an overall clean.

What Types of Parts and Products Benefit From Ultrasonic Cleaning?

Ultrasonic cleaning achieves the highest standard of cleanliness in industries where a non-caustic clean is important for health and safety, as well as those that require gentleness throughout the cleaning process. For this reason, it is widely used to clean medical and dental equipment, delicate jewelry, weapons, electronic equipment, automotive or aerospace parts, and industrial machinery.

Its ability to clean especially fragile parts and products deeply differentiates ultrasonic cleaning further from the other cleaning methods mentioned above. The ability to clean at a microscopic level without leaving behind chemicals that could cause rust also makes it more suitable than alternatives across several materials.

At Aztalan, we use this process to deep clean parts for customers across industries, especially those using aluminum and other sensitive metals. Our expert technicians often produce and ultrasonically clean custom parts and equipment for both medical and industrial applications. Our parts are able to meet the high standards of cleanliness and precision required in medical and surgical instruments, and our cleaning services for industrial facilities ensure every metal part is thoroughly cleaned with tightly adhered particles easily removed from all surfaces.

Aztalan Engineering Is Committed to Cleanliness

At Aztalan Engineering, we use our ultrasonic cleaning equipment to make sure all of our customers’ most important metal components are thoroughly cleaned and prepped for assembly or use. The efficiency of our cleaning processes ensures on-time delivery of high-quality, fully clean metal parts and equipment. 

In our more than 40 years of industry experience, the Aztalan team has successfully completed several complex breathing circuit cleaning processes, including a KSC-C-123H, Level 250 Clean Spec for the Kennedy Space Center. We also have experience with Breathing Circuit Gasses (BCG), High-Pressure Oxygen (HPO2), and Medium-Pressure Oxygen (MPO2) Clean Specs. We’re dedicated to identifying and employing the most efficient and effective processes for every environment and application.

Reach out to one of our experts today to discuss how partnering with Aztalan Engineering can lead to higher quality, cleaner on-time metal parts and products.

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