3 Types of Ultrasonic Cleaning Baskets to Get the Job Done

August 18, 2015 | Custom Wire Baskets

Ultrasonic cleaning bubbles For many manufacturers, the surface conditioning of a finished part is crucially important. Small contaminants left on the surface of a part can ruin said surface condition, and even shorten the useful life of the part.

This is where ultrasonic cleaning comes into play. This process combines immersion in a cleaning solution with high-frequency vibrations to blast the surface of an object clean of small, stuck-on contaminants.

Ultrasonic cleaning is very effective for eliminating even tiny contaminants on small parts, but there are several challenges to overcome, such as:

  • Dealing with Air Pockets. Very complicated parts might have air pockets in them where the cleaning solution cannot penetrate. These air pockets limit the effectiveness of the ultrasonic cleaning process.

  • Preventing Surface Damage. Another issue is that when washing two or more parts, they can collide while being subjected to the cavitation process. The intense vibrations mean that these two parts can impact each other thousands of times a second, resulting in scratches that can ruin their surface condition and necessitate extra finishing processes to remove the flaws, eating up time and labor.

  • Parts Falling Out of the Basket. Finally, when submerging parts in an aqueous solution, there is a risk that they can fall or float out of their container. Parts left loose in a cleaning machine of any kind pose a risk of damage to both the part and the machine itself.

Each of these problems may or may not be present in your particular ultrasonic parts cleaning process, depending on factors such as the size and shape of your parts, the number of parts you clean at once, and the intensity of the cavitation process in your parts cleaning equipment.

Because of these (and other) variables, it is important to have an ultrasonic parts cleaning basket that is optimized for your specific process to ensure the greatest level of productivity.

Here are a few different ultrasonic parts cleaning baskets that have been designed to accommodate specific challenges faced by Marlin’s clients:

Wire Basket 2123001 – Latched Lid with Hinges, Fine Mesh, and Custom Handles

Marlin Steel Ultrasonic Basket 2123001This basket was designed specifically to address the issue of small parts falling out during the ultrasonic cleaning process.

Here, the client was washing some very small parts less than 0.22” in diameter. Because of this, the parts would fall right out of a wire basket or tray that had standard openings that were 0.25” wide.

Also, these small parts were given to floating somewhat in the customer’s isopropyl alcohol (IPA) cleaning solution, creating another chance for parts to fall out of their container.

This basket addresses these issues by using a very fine wire mesh that is less than 0.22” wide, and a lid that snaps shut using two latches to hold the top securely in place during the roughest cavitation process.

This way, the IPA cleaning solution can get into the basket without issue, and the runoff can drain easily, but the customer’s small parts remain in place.

The two large handles on either side of the basket can be grabbed by hand, or placed onto an automated conveyor system used by the customer to move parts loads.

This basket helped the client to eliminate time and labor wasted on fishing small parts out of their processing equipment. Even better, damage to the equipment from free-floating parts was eliminated, reducing maintenance costs.

Wire Basket 388009 – Wire Basket with Dividers

Marlin Steel Wire Basket 388009Unlike the previous basket, this basket does not incorporate a lid. The parts being washed by this client were heavy enough that floating was not an issue.

However, when their parts touched during the ultrasonic cavitation process, the vibration-induced impacts between the parts would cause deep scratches that ruined the surface condition of the parts.

To address the issue of contact between parts causing damage, this basket was designed to have 20 separate chambers. This allows up to 20 different parts to be washed without the risk of contact damage.

The client that this basket was made for also ran a harsh degreasing process. So, the basket was made of thicker wires than that of the 2123001 basket, with more open space between wires to allow the viscous degreasing runoff to drain away as well. The dividers in this basket design are permanent for extra durability.

Wire Basket 1212001 – Simple, Efficient Design for Rotating Wash Processes

Marlin Steel Wire Basket 1212001So, how can you overcome the issue of air pockets sticking to a part in an ultrasonic cleaning process?

One way to deal with air pockets is to rotate the parts in the wash so that the air bubble can float away. However, rotating an open basket full of parts merely dumps the parts out of the basket, leaving them floating free in your highly-sensitive ultrasonic cleaning machine.

This basket design addresses that issue by using a hinged lid that is secured with latches to hold the basket closed during the wash process. This way, when the basket is rotated, the parts don’t fall out of the top of the basket and trapped air pockets can float free from parts.

Removing air pockets improves the penetration of the cleaning solution used in your ultrasonic parts cleaning process as well as the penetration of the actual ultrasonic waves used to shake contaminants loose from your parts.

These three ultrasonic cleaning baskets are each designed to address different concerns that limit the productivity of a manufacturing process that relies on ultrasonic cleaning. Check out our other precision ultrasonic baskets here.

Find out how Marlin Steel’s team of engineers can create the perfect ultrasonic cleaning basket for your needs at the link below:

Marlin Steel Ultrasonic parts washing case study