Author Topic: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner  (Read 3109 times)

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Offline TheUnnamedNewbie

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Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« on: January 02, 2018, 08:58:21 am »
HI guys, not sure if this falls under T&M but surely under home lab gear...

Any experience with using ultrasonic cleaners in the home lab? Are they any good for simple sporatic use? I've thought a few times that one would be handy to clean PCBs or metals after drilling/working them, but I've never actually gone and gotten them.
Any guidelines about them? Do I need special resources to use them? And are the ones you can get for about 100 bucks on Aliexpress/Ebay any good?
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Online Daruosha

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 09:16:15 am »
You can get away with cheap Chinese stuff (for occasional use in your home lab), but make sure a proper ultrasonic cleaner for electronics needs to sweep frequencies and not just emits in a single frequency. Other than that, there's not too much that can go wrong.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 12:41:56 pm by Daruosha »
 

Offline Decoman

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2018, 12:47:39 pm »
<-- has no personal experience with using an ultrasonic cleaner

Having said that, I once considered an ultra sonic cleaning machine, but looking at reviews and such, my impression was that some models might be too weak, or that they break, so I never bought one.

If I ever get one, it would have to be:

* large enough for my stuff  (some people clean their dismantled airbrush guns with an ultrasonic cleaner)
* solid
* powerful enough

I wonder if one is required to buy special purpose cleaning liquid for using an ultrasonic cleaner, or if you could maybe get away with some basic soap/detergent of some kind, and still get the same result with regard to cleaning power.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 12:49:32 pm by Decoman »
 

Offline ch_scr

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2018, 05:29:10 pm »
I have operated industrial ultrasonic cleaning machines with power in the multiple kW range for my fomer employer. It was used to clean metal parts after machining, for use in an "dust and oil free" environment afterwards. The transducer(s) sit under the bottom (and sometimes also on one side) of the tank and make the bottom/side move. This is why you need to have a basket and can't just throw stuff in the tank.
These waves propagate through the cleaning solution, until they hit the surface. Because of the difference in speed of sound in cleaning fluid (e.g. water or alcohol) and in air, the waves get reflected there. This creates standing waves between the bottom of the tank and the surface, illustrated by air bubbles being trapped in the fluid that can't get to the surface, as they normally would.
The problem created by this, is that in the null points of the standing wave, no ultrasonic cleaning action happens. In a frequency sweep type machine, with change in frequency, wavelength also changes, as do the positions of the null points. Another solution, used in one of the machines I operated, is to move the basket up and down (very slowly) automatically, moving the part through the null points, subsequently cleaning the whole part.
The ultrasonic cleaning action happens by caviation, trying to move the water faster than it can follow, thus creating small bubbles that almost immediately collapse. This collapse creates a punctual pressure and temperature spike. This removes oxides, dirt, etc. from the part surface, supplemented by the cleaning solution (heat accelerated chemical processes). This also removes surface material itself, if you leave it running after the part is clean. We had to reweld the stainless steel baskets as the weld areas would get thin (although at after 10 years).
I believe in the electronics industry isopropyl alcohol is used for pcb cleaning, we used a kind of ph-neutral soap with anti-oxidation additives for the metal parts.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 05:34:40 pm by ch_scr »
 
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Offline Gyro

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 06:51:06 pm »
Isopropyl Alcohol can only be used in specifially designed cleaners (inert gas purge, I think). The ultrasonically produced IPA aerosol poses a significant fire hazard.
Chris

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Offline David Hess

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 12:21:01 am »
I have an old relatively large gallon sized Branson one that I rebuilt and it works great for cleaning printed circuit boards and other such things.  They come out looking completely clean although sometimes it removes the markings from plastic packaged ICs.

Hot water with a little bit of dish soap or TSP works well.  Adding isopropyl alcohol does not seem to help much which makes sense; water with a surfactant added is a very good solvent.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 12:34:24 am »
Picked up this one off fleebay a couple of years ago.

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/chinese-ultrasonic-cleaner-10-l-liter/msg512460/#msg512460

Still working like a champ.  Has been used at least once a week for 15-30min at a shot since I purchased it.  I use Branson EC cleaner with it.  At 60C, 5 minutes will remove even the most dried on flux.  Can't say I have noticed any spots uncleaned from standing waves, but I do typically rotate things half way thru a cycle.
 

Offline TheUnnamedNewbie

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2018, 12:09:28 pm »
Thanks guys for the info. I think I'll hold off getting one for now but I'm gonna add it to my (already long)  "Things I want to get at some point" list.
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Offline taydin

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2018, 12:18:25 pm »
What would happen if a very powerful ultrasonic cleaner is used to clean a circuit board? Would it clean faster? Or can it dislodge some of the components?
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Offline kolbep

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2018, 01:58:23 pm »
Rossmann Group videos on Ultrasonic Cleaners.
What to use, brand comparisons, and what cleaners to use (and not to use)







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Offline lacek

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2018, 06:32:11 am »
Crest is difficulut ot buy in the EU, and it is much more expensive than at Rossmanns. Anyway it seems that many brands offer sweep frequency, but it is crest that is apparently superior (at least over Branson). Why is that so? Brochures of the two product seem to indicated this is more or less the same product, except for rather unimportant differences, such as material of external enclosure, a few kHz difference in operating frequency.
 

Offline taydin

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 07:11:56 am »
As far as I understood from his Branson experiences, the problem was a lack of power in the Branson product. Both header power and ultrasonic power I guess.

I have a locally manufactured ultrasonic cleaner, which has more than 4 times heating and ultrasonic power compared to the Crest. I normally use this for cleaning metal parts with very good results. Recently I cleaned some very filthy PCB's with it and the cleaning was so so, probably because of the detergent I used wasn't suitable.


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Offline blueskull

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 07:22:14 am »
You can use IPA, and the vapor/aerosol is not the biggest concern. The real concern is the large volume of flammable liquid, once on fire or spilled, it is hard to extinguish.
When I use IPA with ultrasonic cleaners, I use a metal beaker to contain the IPA, then place the beaker in the bath half filled with water.
Apparently, for safety reason, the beaker must be small. I use a 0.5L beaker with ~70% filled, and for my small boards, that's more than enough.
 

Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: Home Ultrasonic Cleaner
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 07:30:52 am »
As far as I understood from his Branson experiences, the problem was a lack of power in the Branson product. Both header power and ultrasonic power I guess.

I have a locally manufactured ultrasonic cleaner, which has more than 4 times heating and ultrasonic power compared to the Crest. I normally use this for cleaning metal parts with very good results. Recently I cleaned some very filthy PCB's with it and the cleaning was so so, probably because of the detergent I used wasn't suitable.



No ultrasonic cleaner will work well packed with stuff touching the sides/bottom of the tank. Use a wire basket.
 


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