Just the Ticket for Ultrasonic Cleaning

Article From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 8/1/2013

Ushers Machine and Tool adds another ultrasonic parts washer.

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Ushers Machine and Tool Co. in Round Lake, N.Y., needed to clean stainless steel gas tips that were covered in machine coolant before they were sent to be chrome plated.

Nothing says a happy customer more than those who come back to buy a second parts cleaning machine …especially if the next one is even larger than the original.

But that was the case with Ushers Machine and Tool Co., located in Round Lake, N.Y., which has been using Ultrasonic Power Corp.’s 39-gallon parts washer console for several years to clean stainless steel gas tips that were covered in machine coolant before they were sent to be chrome plated.

Before getting the ultrasonic cleaning system, and after doing the work by hand for several years, Ushers’ Quality Control Manager Nick Jones says the equipment has been a blessing for his lean operation.

“It’s really been tremendous for us,” says Jones. “As soon as we saw what it could do for us in just saving man-hours as well as giving us a better performance, we knew this was the ticket.”

Parts lifted from basket

Ushers Machine and Tool Co. in Round Lake, N.Y., needed to clean stainless steel gas tips that were covered in machine coolant before they were sent to be chrome plated.

Jones says the parts at Ushers, a precision machining, welding, and fabrication company, were being cleaned by hand using chemicals and paper towels, which was labor-intensive and time-consuming. But more importantly, it wasn’t yielding very good results, as the parts weren’t clean enough for chrome plating, and thus the chrome wasn’t adhering well to the threads on the gas tip.

Jones had heard about Ultrasonic’s machines, and called the company. Lisa Serafini, a technical sales representative with the Freeport, Ill. company, then did some parts testing for Ushers.

Ultrasonic Testing

“I did ultrasonic parts testing on stainless steel cavities, cores and bearings,” she says. “The parts were covered in water scale and oil, and these contaminates needed to be removed from the parts before another manufacturing process could take place.”

Ultrasonic Power Corporation has manufactured ultrasonic parts washers in Freeport since 1972, and their standard product line offers capacities ranging from one- to 204-gallon systems, including ultrasonic immersible transducers and generators as an economical solution for retrofitting existing non-ultrasonic cleaning equipment.

The system has custom multi-stage clean, rinse and dry systems that are available to fit application-specific needs, Serafini says.

“We make the generators and transducers in our facility,” she says. “We never buy ultrasonic components offshore from another company and then assemble them under our name.”

Previously, Ushers’ employees had been cleaning the parts by hand with wire brushes and then with caustic detergents in an aqueous parts washer. At about 250 parts per day, the process required too much manual labor.

5-7 Minutes Wash

Serafini says the testing was done using a bench-top ultrasonic parts washer with Brulin 815GD detergent at a dilution of 10 percent per gallon at 140°F. The stainless steel parts were immersed in the ultrasonic bath for 5 to 7 minutes, rinsed with warm tap water for a minute, and dried with a forced air parts dryer.

parts cleaning machine

A 204-gallon Ultrasonic Console with Sonic Touch.

When Ushers decided to purchase and install the system, Serafini says the company immediately realized a cost savings with the new equipment.

“Since they no longer needed waste removal of their old chemical, they saved $15,000 in the first year alone,” she says. “The system paid for itself in less than a year. They have since purchased several other ultrasonic cleaners for their other facility locations.”

Jones says his company is cleaning 304 and 410 stainless steel gas tips covered in coolant from machining. The parts are fully immersed in the ultrasonic bath for 20 minutes, rinsed with warm tap water for 15 minutes, and then air dried. The entire process takes about 45 minutes per batch of 30-50 parts.

This compares with the previous process, which required up to 3 hours of manual cleaning per batch, Jones says. Since the company cleans up to 600 parts a week, the time savings has really added up.

Better Cleaning

“We knew we had to get a better cleaning process in place,” Jones says. “Using a can of spray just wasn’t getting the job done. Obviously, the time savings is fantastic, but in the end we had to get a clean part before moving on to be plated.”

Now the shop is moving about 300 parts a day through the plant, as opposed to 100 in prior years.

a welder works on a cleaning machine

Ultrasonic Power Corp. manufactures its transducers and generators in Freeport, Illinois.

“We could have never done that, especially by hand,” he says.

Those problems were especially apparent when it came to large orders coming in, or those that needed to be out quickly.

“When it came to crunch time, we were really in trouble,” says Jones. “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see what we needed to do.”

Serafini says her company’s line of cleaners uses ultrasonic vibrations to generate millions of microscopic bubbles that provide the motive force to reach into the smallest crevices on precision machined equipment.  She says the high-energy release following the bubbles’ vacuum collapse accounts for the ultimate level of clean that ultrasonic precision washers can provide.

The Ultrasonic Power machines have a patented Vibra-Bar transducer module, which consists of a radiating bar approximately 2 x 5.5 inches that is permanently attached to the stainless steel radiating surface by high temperature bonding. Serafini says that on the radiating bar are two active piezoelectric stacks, which consist of PZT elements bolted between the radiating bar and backing plate.

Low Dissipation

“The PZT element is specially formulated to obtain low dissipation, high density and low porosity, which results in improved performance and negligible aging,” she says.

The machines also boast Simultaneous Multi-Frequency, which Serafini says is done by driving the radiating bar at the two areas of the active stacks, which are energized by the 40 kHz oscillation from the generator modulated by either the full wave or half wave mode of operation.

She says the absence of any stack adhesive allows the stack to vibrate and resonate not only in the thickness mode, but also in other modes such as circular and transverse.

No matter how the machines work internally, Jones and Ushers Machine and Tool Co. are happy to have it. That’s why Ushers has ordered a newer, larger model that can hold up to 135 gallons of water for a second plant near the main shop.

“It’s been a great addition to our operation, and we’re trying to get leaner all the time,” he says. “It’s turned out to be less expensive to operate than the way we were doing things, and the result is a better, cleaner part.” 

 

For more information on Ultrasonic Power Corp., call 800-575-0168, or visit UPCorp.com


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