If you’re an insider in the world of ultrasonic cleaning technology, you know that the transducer in an ultrasonic cleaner is at the heart of this environmentally-friendly method of removing fine debris and microorganisms in applications used by dentists, health care professionals, cosmetics manufacturers, veterinarians, jewelers, machinists and others whose business success and reputation depend on the highest standards of hygiene.
The transducer generates intense cavitation that disperses high-frequency sound waves into a liquid medium and alternating pressure phases of sound wave transmission produce millions of microscopic vacuum cavities and ultrasonic cleaner cause them to implode. The implosion sparks the release of high-powered liquid micro-jets and propels them throughout the bath to attack contamination in every nook and cranny.
Cavitation intensity is how you measure the effectiveness of ultrasonic cleaners. The level of cavitation intensity will vary based on the load demand for the particular ultrasonic cleaning application – and striking the right balance among cleaning system effectiveness, unit longevity and green targets is the goal of best practices-driven customers worldwide.
The question on many customers’ minds is which type of ultrasonic cleaner is superior from a cavitation intensity perspective: a powerful stacked transducer with mass or a crystal-bonded, flat transducer? Increasing the load factor in the ultrasonic bath will require more transducer power to sustain adequate cavitation intensity. But more power than necessary in an ultrasonic cleaner will not affect cavitation intensity or cleaning system effectiveness. Indeed, ultrasonic cleaners have a cavitation intensity limit- and increasing power beyond this point will not increase cavitation intensity.
So while a stacked transducer is what’s needed for industrial cleaning systems – a stacked ultrasonic cleaner in the laboratory would not increase cleaning effectiveness and would compromise the integrity of the cleaning system in short order. Too much power and output amplitude will erode the stainless steel radiating surface (tank) and create a hole. A well-designed flat transducer can provide enough cavitation intensity to clean effectively without risk of damage to the integrity of the ultrasonic cleaner.
To illustrate, think of ultrasonic cleaner transducers as audio speakers. A crystal-bonded, flat transducer is like the speakers in your car: they are small and placed in different areas of the car. A stacked transducer is like the speakers in a concert hall or stadium – it’s massive and can handle high-frequency input signals and intense output amplitudes. If you put concert hall speakers in your car at high output amplitude you might shatter the car’s windows. Thus it is with ultrasonic cleaners: you need a transducer designed to fit its intended environment.
One little known fact about ultrasonic cleaning systems is how environmentally friendly they are and how they can help advance your goals to go green. Since cavitation involves the use of mechanical energy to clean, there’s no need to use harsh chemicals to get the job done. Ultrasonic cleaners perform most effectively when used with a specially-formulated cleanser with temperature, viscosity, density, vapor pressure and surface tension properties that propagate the ultrasonic energy.
Some ultrasonic cleansers are highly concentrated and thus, cost effective – so you can go green without the price premium typically associated with green products. A green cleanser also reduces the risk of your employees’ exposure to potentially harmful contaminants and aerosols during the ultrasonic cleaning process.
Transducer construction and design will affect the efficiency and life of the ultrasonic cleaner. Design should be based on user specifications for operating frequency, output amplitude and load conditions in the ultrasonic bath. Even though prices for high-quality, stacked ultrasonic transducers have dropped substantially, choosing this type of ultrasonic cleaning solution is not necessarily the best choice every time. The key to maximizing your investment is to work with a reputable manufacturer who will design an ultrasonic cleaning system to your specifications.