In ultrasonic parts cleaning applications, the construction of your parts basket can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the cleaning process. A poorly-optimized ultrasonic parts cleaning basket can keep parts from drying or getting cleaned efficiently; this can result in longer drying times between washings, the need for extra wash cycles, and even damage to parts.
Issues with parts washing baskets can reduce throughput and even waste valuable materials, driving up costs and reducing profits for your production line. This is why it’s important to get the best ultrasonic parts cleaning basket for the job.
There are many design considerations that go into a well-designed and optimized basket for ultrasonic parts washing, such as:
- Basket materials
- Wire thickness
However, there’s one more factor that many ultrasonic parts washing users forget about: openings per inch (OPI) in their basket’s wire mesh. Wire mesh openings per inch can have a significant impact on air flow, drainage, and the thoroughness of the initial cleaning process.
Is it better to have more openings per square inch in a wire mesh for an ultrasonic cleaning basket, or to have fewer openings?
Generally speaking, it’s better to have fewer openings. Here’s why:
Why Less is More Effective: 4 OPI vs 8 OPI Mesh
While it might sound counterintuitive, having more openings per square inch actually increases the amount of metal between your parts and the ultrasonic transducer that generates the high-frequency vibrations that are so integral to your cleaning process.
For example, consider a basket with wires that are 0.121” thick. If that basket had four openings per inch, that would be two 0.121”-thick wires. This would mean a total of 0.242” of wire between your parts and the transducer for each square inch of basket surface.
If the basket had eight openings per inch, that would mean at least four wires in each square inch of basket (three vertical, on horizontal). This would increase the obstructing surface area from 0.242” to 0.484” per square inch! By placing more metal between the transducer and parts, the ultrasound waves cannot reach parts as easily, compromising the quality of the clean.
To compensate, a basket manufacturer would have to make the wires thinner, which could compromise the strength of the basket and shorten its useful life.
So, having larger openings in a wire mesh is typically optimal for an ultrasonic cleaning basket.
Is There an Exception to This Rule?
Yes. There are a few rare situations where having larger openings in mesh might not be optimal. Mostly, however, this is because of the nature of the parts being held.
For example, if you have parts that are smaller than 1/4” in size, then having four openings per square inch or less in your wire mesh would allow those parts to fall through the basket too easily. In such a case, you may need to use a basket with more tightly-spaced openings.
If you’re looking for a custom parts washing basket for ultrasonic cleaning processes, be sure to consider all of your needs so that you get the best basket for the job.