How to Use Baskets & Brackets for Perfect Ultrasonic CleaningJuly 1st, 2010
Containers and supports used to hold or suspend parts in an ultrasonic cleaner should be designed to minimize interference with the cavitation cleaning action. The vast majority of ultrasonic cleaning is done by placing the parts in stainless steel baskets with mesh bottoms. Baskets are suspended on the tank rim or otherwise supported so that parts being cleaned are fully immersed in the ultrasonic cleaning solution. Note that parts should never rest on the bottom of the ultrasonic cleaning tank, nor should baskets unless they are designed to be supported only near the corners of the tank and with rubberized feet to prevent metal-to-metal contact.
Because the wire mesh itself is subjected to cavitation energy emanating from ultrasonic transducers on the bottom of the cleaning tank, the effectiveness of cavitation on parts being cleaned is somewhat diminished. To counteract this, the mesh should be as open as possible but of sufficient strength to safely contain and support the weight of products being cleaned. This, of course, does not apply when small parts such as screws or clock mechanisms are being cleaned. In such instances baskets of fine wire screening hold parts in the cleaning solution.
Larger products such as engine blocks and heads are generally suspended over the ultrasonic cleaner tank and manually or automatically lowered into the solution. Such systems have little impact on the effectiveness of cavitation action.
Baskets made of plastic compositions find application in cleaning delicate parts that might otherwise be damaged due to contact with stainless steel in a cavitation environment. Because plastic inhibits cavitation action even more effectively than wire mesh, the plastic should be as thin as practical and the openings as wide as possible to safely handle what is being cleaned. An alternative is placing parts in plastic-coated metal holders.
Positioning parts is also important to maximize the effectiveness of cavitation action. In the most ideal situation parts should not be in contact with each other. If this is impractical or unavoidable then you should contact Tovatech for recommendations on how to expose all surfaces to the cleaning action. As a caution, mixing parts of different composition such as aluminum and steel in the same basket should be avoided as spotting and staining may result.
When ultrasonic energy is used to mix, emulsify or dissolve samples the work is accomplished in glass flasks stabilized with clamps to the cleaner’s mesh bottom tray. Multiple flasks can be treated at the same time. They should be immersed about two inches in the bath.
If an “off-the-shelf” basket or bracket does not solve unusual ultrasonic cleaning requirements a custom design should be discussed with equipment suppliers such as Tovatech.
What unusual ultrasonic cleaning situations have you experienced that were solved by specially designed baskets or brackets?
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