How does ultrasonic cleaning work?

When an item needs to be cleaned meticulously, it can certainly be a chore to get it absolutely pristine. Enter the ultrasonic cleaner, which works to quickly and effectively clean all kinds of objects. Let’s look at how this technology does its magic.

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The process of ultrasonic cleaning uses sound waves which are inaudible to the human hear to produce vibrations in a cleaning fluid, and those vibrations agitate this fluid. Some ultrasonic cleaning takes place in water, but the effect can be enhanced by using a solvent that’s appropriate for both the item to be cleaned and the amount of soiling that needs to be removed.

What can be cleaned in this way

All manner of objects can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner. Items such as jewellery, optical equipment, surgical and dental equipment and just about any metal or plastic object can benefit from ultrasonic cleaning.

There is a danger that electrical components can become damaged by ultrasonic cleaning, as can the fragile diaphragms which help a microphone operate. It is best to check if you are in any doubt before dunking an object into a cleaner.

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A solution to an age old problem

Sergeant Daniel Birks of the Royal Marines has found a novel use for a large ultrasonic cleaner to solve one of the biggest banes of a squaddie’s existence.

Sergeant Birks has experimented with the use of a large ultrasonic cleaner to clean an entire section’s rifles following an exercise in as little as 20 minutes. The time soldiers spend cleaning their weapons, both in the field and back in barracks, could be spent doing other activities, and the use of these cleaning baths could well reduce the amount of money the MoD spends repairing and replacing damaged weapons.

The use of the cleaning baths is currently undergoing a trial, and thanks to a grant from an innovation fund, further tests are looking to assess the feasibility of Sergeant Birks’ idea.

The use of ultrasonic cleaning reduces the need for abrasive cleaners, which is one of the key ways in which military rifles become damaged. Implementing Birks’ cleaning baths could well save both time and money, making his innovative idea something that all soldiers could be celebrating.

Birks is confident that as well as saving money, his cleaning bath is more environmentally friendly than current methods.


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