Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Questions - Ultrasonics?


#1

These questions are directed at the ultrasonic dealers, repair
services, and perhaps even a manufacturer will chime in…

I’m posting these questions because I think that the answers to these
questions - if we get 'em, will be of interest to quite a few of us.

  1. We have all heard that is unwise to immerse your hand in the tank
    while an ultrasonic is operating… and while I agree that long
    periods of time, or constant repetition cannot be good for your hand
  • I gotta admit that mine gets in there about once a week to fish out
    something. Is there any documentation of the injury or damage that
    can be caused by this? I have a doctor/student who insists that
    exposure like mine is harmless. He even tells me that some forms of
    arthritis are treated by ultrasound?
  1. Using the 3 quart model as an example - do “liner tanks”
    (stainless, solid sides & bottom, perforated about 1/2" above the
    bottom), glass beakers, jars, wire mesh baskets, plastic mesh, tea
    balls, or racks affect the cleaning action? All of these items are
    sold for use with the machines… How many of these items can you
    combine and use at the same time without diminishing the cavitation?
    For example - the stainless liner with two glass beakers resting in
    it, or a ring rack, tea ball, and a jar at the same time…

  2. How much (in volume or weight) can you put into a machine without
    affecting the cleaning action? Can you hear the difference?

  3. Are there areas within the tank where the ultrasonic action is
    strongest? Weakest? Why?

  4. If so, then what would be the optimum distance from the
    floor/walls to suspend the items?

  5. Are large sheet metal items, or castings (3" x 4" or bigger) hard
    on the machine?

  6. What destroys transducers and heating elements fastest?

  7. I have a machine with temperature control, what is the optimum
    temperature to use with BCR? (Buffing compound remover - in solution)

These are all questions I’ve been asked over the years…

I have my own conclusions based on 30 years experience, but I’m
always willing to learn from the real experts and pass on the
to students.

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School


#2

Hi Brian,

First let me say that some of these questions have already been
answered several times and are in the archives. This is a very long
post so you will need some time to read it.

      1. We have all heard that is unwise to immerse your hand in
the tank while an ultrasonic is operating... and while I agree that
long periods of time, or constant repetition cannot be good for your
hand - I gotta admit that mine gets in there about once a week to
fish out something. Is there any documentation of the injury or
damage that can be caused by this? I have a doctor/student who
insists that exposure like mine is harmless. He even tells me that
some forms of arthritis are treated by ultrasound? 

There are a few reasons not to put your hand in the ultrasonic bath
while it is running. First there is a possibility you could be
electrocuted. This possibility is very small but it is possible. The
unit creates very high voltages to power the transducers and they are
mounted directly to the tank. If the power where to somehow make it to
the tank you would not be shocked by the 110V - 120V coming out of the
wall but by very high voltages. This could do serious harm to you.

I think everyone that has worked with these transducers at sometime
has gotten shocked by them. They can build up a charge by being heated
and cooled or from being under some mechanical pressure. They will
hold this charge and if the leads accidentally touch you, you will
recieve a very strong shock. It usually only happens once or at most
twice after that it is very easy to remeber to be very careful.

It’s kind of like cutting a mold for the first time. You know the
blade is very sharp but you are so intent on cutting the mold you
forget about your hands and don’t realize how little pressure it takes
to slice your finger really badly. It only takes a couple times and
you don’t forget about the sharpness and your fingers again.

Another problem is that this type of ultrasonic activity is harmful
to your bones. It will actually start to break them down. For
documentation suspend a piece of silver in you sonic and just let it
run for a few days. When you pull it out you won’t have the same
surface you started with. Silver is much harder than your bones, so if
it can do this to metal do you really need to stick your hand in to
prove it will happen to your bones?

As for your ‘Doctor/Student’ if I were you I would be asking someone
that obviously has no knowledge about what he is talking about. Sure
’Ultrasoud’ is used for many types of therapy. "Ultrasonic’ Cleaners
are not. You friend should learn more about what he is talking about
before providing and answer. If he doesn’t learn this before he is a
real doctor I wouldn’t ever use his services.

    2. Using the 3 quart model as an example - do "liner tanks"
(stainless, solid sides & bottom, perforated about 1/2" above the
bottom), glass beakers, jars, wire mesh baskets, plastic mesh, tea
balls, or racks affect the cleaning action? All of these items are
sold for use with the machines... How many of these items can you
combine and use at the same time without diminishing the
cavitation? For example - the stainless liner with two glass beakers
resting in it, or a ring rack, tea ball, and a jar at the same
time.... 

The answer is yes and no. Never use plastic containers. They absorb
the sonic waves and although you might get some action in the
container you will have to wait forever for it to clean. As long as
the container is made of stainless steel (so it won’t rust) or
tempered glass (pyrex) you will get the same action inside the
container as you would outside. The exception is with the use of mesh
baskets and any item that rests on the bottom of the tank.

Mesh baskets will dampen the sonic action and reduce the cleaning
capacity inside the container. It will allow more sonic action to
penetrate that a plastic container. Ther ring racks you are talking
about are bad in 2 ways if they are not suspended in the tank. Most
but not all racks rest on the bottom of the tank. When placing
anything on the bottom of the tank you are dampening the sonic action
by preventing the transducers from moving the bottom.

The other problem is that at the points where they touch the tank
they will in a short period of time wear holes in the bottom. This
will happen at different rates depending on the make and model of the
sonic. The only racks you should use are ones that are suspended from
the edges of the tank and never touch the bottom.

As for how many containers you can use at a time. It would depend on
the size of the sonic and the size of the containers. As long as none
of them are resting on the bottom of the tank you shouldn’t have any
problem.

3. How much (in volume or weight) can you put into a machine without
affecting the cleaning action? Can you hear the difference? 

Basically, the weight or volume doesn’t matter as long as it is not
resting on the bottom.

    4. Are there areas within the tank where the ultrasonic action
is strongest? Weakest? Why?  

All sonics are not equal. Some are better than others and therfore
this question is very difficult to answer in such a general state. If
you ask about a specific brand or unit it would be easier to answer.
The top of the line units are going to have more advanced technology
and therefore have better coverage throughout the tank. But in most
units it is safe to say there is always action directly above the
tranducer(s). To find where the action is in your tank do the
aluminum foil test.

If you don’t know about this test I will explain it. This test is
something you should do when you first buy an ultrasonic. Save the
foil and then when you feel the cleaning action isn’t as good as it
was do another and compare the 2 pieces of foil.

The test:

  1. Clean your sonic. (omit this if it is new)

  2. Fill with new water and solution according to the instruction on
    the solution. Run the unit to de-air the solution (between 2 and 20
    minutes depending on the make of the sonic).

  3. Take a piece of regular aluminum foil larger than your tank in one
    dimension. Hang the foil over the sides of the tank so the foil is
    flat in the tank and goes up the sides. The horizontal part in the
    tank should be about half way down.

  4. Turn on the unit for 1 minute.

  5. When the solution stops moving you will be able to see the areas
    where the majority of action is taking place. Any large holes have the
    most action and any small dimples have a little action. If you run the
    unit for longer the foil will have very large areas where the action
    had eaten through.

As for why are there zones. This is a very technical question that
would require some extensive explaining. The easiest way to explain
and I know I won’t do this justice. The transducers are moving the
bottom of the tank in order to create the ultrasonic action. This
tank is a piece of metal. It is not exactly the same thickness all the
way from one end to the other and from side to side. These differences
in thickness and the shape of the tank and the power and number of
transducers and capacity of the tank and many other factors come into
play to determine where and how much action there is.

        5. If so, then what would be the optimum distance from the
floor/walls to suspend the items?   

The distance from the bottom of the tank is usually between 1/2" from
the bottom to within 1/2" from the top of the solution. Thiese
distances differ depending on the unit.

    6. Are large sheet metal items, or castings (3" x 4" or bigger)
hard on the machine?  

As long as they are suspended, no.

7. What destroys transducers and heating elements fastest?

You can destroy the heaters by turning them on without sufficient
liquid in the tank.

Transducers can be destroyed by striking them - dropping something
heavy on the tank bottom when there is no solution in the tank or when
it is running. Or if you shut the unit off and it is hot then dump the
hot solution and place cold water in it. Getting liquid inside the
cleaner can also destroy a transducer. Or running the unit without
solution in it.

There are several ways to get water inside. Running water over the
unit in a sink to clean it. Use a moist towel instead. Running the
unit on top of a towel to catch the water that splashes out. The
towel will catch the water then transfer it inside the unit as either
water or steam which condenses. Never cleaning the outside of the
unit. As the solution is splashed out it carries the soap solution you
are using and although the water will evaporate as the soap builds up
it makes a path for the water to follow and the path will eventually
go inside the cleaner. A hole in the tank will will also allow water
inside the unit.

    8. I have a machine with temperature control, what is the
optimum temperature to use with BCR? (Buffing compound remover - in
solution)  

Normally the best operating temperature for the bath is 130 - 140
degrees F.

Here are a couple of answers to questions similar to yours that I
posted earlier this year some are a little repetitive. I have re-read
these and have edited them a little to make thing clearer.

#1 Posting 01/04/01:

I would like to clarify the description of how an ultrasonic works.
The statement that tiny air bubbles are responsible for cleaning is
not accurate. Actually air in the liquid hinders any cleaning. If you
notice when placing fresh tap water into an ultrasonic and turning it
on a lot of air will be forced out of the water right away and as all
of the air is removed from the water the ultrasonic will clean better.
This is because the air being flexible absorbs the ultrasound waves.
This is also why using plastic in an ultrasonic will greatly reduce
the cleaning ability. Anything you put into the cleaner that is not a
rigid solid will absorb and diminish the ultrasonic activity. That’s
why glass beakers and steel trays and baskets are used. They pass the
ultrasonic wave right on through without impeding them.

The ultrasonic produces ultrasound waves. Ultrasound is not audible.
The ultrasound waves are transmitted into the solution and these very
compact and very high frequency waves are what actually ‘tear’ apart
the dirt and grime. There are many different uses for ultrasound and
not all frequencies are capable of cleaning. That is why there are so
many different manufacturers of the cleaners. Each has a different
belief in what the right frequency is and the methods to achieve that
frequency. Usually the faster a cleaner cleans the faster it will
self destruct. All ultrasonic cleaners will destroy themselves
eventually. They all can be repaired like new. There is a trade off.
How fast do you need your items cleaned vs. how long do you want your
cleaner to last before needing to be repaired. The manufacturers are
all very competitive and are making advancements everyday to improve
the effectiveness of their brands. In my opinion some brands are
better than others in general. Again if you need to clean fast and
have a high volume of cleaning to do you will want a very aggressive
cleaner, it will self destruct sooner, or if you have the finances and
space, maybe several cleaners that will live longer and clean slower
are a better choice, or a much larger unit that cleans slower would
work. There are a lot of trade-offs to consider. Purchasing an
ultrasonic cleaner is probably on of the more difficult buying
decisions to make in this industry.

I have seen and repaired most of the brands on the market and I have
some very strong opinions as to which are made best and made to last
and clean the best. Because ultrasonic cleaners have so many variables
built into them one thing you will find among all that use them is a
lack of agreement as to which is the best. If you want to talk more or
have any other questions and would like to talk to me call toll free
at 877-262-2185. I would be happy to explain more about this to any
one.

It should be one item that is studied thoroughly before purchasing so
you will be happy with the unit. Too many people buy an ultrasonic
cleaner because of price and don’t do the research to find out if it
will really do what they want. Most people that buy this way are not
satisfied. There are some very cheap units out there but in this case
they may not be right for you.

One last thing when I said they all self destruct I meant this
literally. The industry standard test is to place a piece of aluminum
foil suspended in the solution and turn the unit on. Within 1 minute
the unit should have torn holes in the foil. The pattern of the holes
should be spread out over the majority of the foil and should be small
to medium in size. If allowed to continue running the foil should
disintegrate. This same action is being applied to the tank.
Therefore the movement that is used to create the ultrasound eats away
at the tank. Eventually holes in the tank will occur. Most times they
are smaller than a pin head and can only be seen by placing a bright
light under the tank and looking for them from the top. Although tell
tale signs are where there is dried or semi-dried soap solution on the
bottom of the tank.

All ultrasonic cleaners are not created equal!

#2 Posting 01/08/01:

Here is what you asked for. Some of this I’m sure most of you know.
However if anybody knows about proper cleaning of the sonic I have
never seen evidence of it! So read on and if you have any questions
about sonics or other equipment don’t hesitate to email me at
ken@mpgrepair.com or call toll free at 877-262-2185. I feel very
strongly about helping everyone in the industry with and
saving them money by repairing all equipment.

A small metal basket would be better for small parts. Just be sure to
suspend it above the tank bottom and don’t place it in or take it out
of the cleaner while it is running.

Most ultrasonics have electrical safety built into them to 'reduce’
the chance of someone getting an electrical shock from the tank but
things do happen. Having worked on them for years I can tell you that
you don’t want to be shocked by them! It’s not a little tingle like
from a 120 volt outlet. A little side note heRe: Voltage does not harm
you it’s the amperage that does. So you could touch a line that has
1000 volts and no amperage and it wouldn’t do anything to you but add
a small amount of amperage and it could have serious effects.

The circuits in ultrasonics create very high voltages and small
currents (amperage) to make the transducers create the ultrasonic
waves. The transducers are mounted (usually glued with specific epoxy)
directly to the tank bottom. Therefore there is always a possibility
that something could go wrong and the electricity could be ‘live’ on
the tank and in the solution. So by placing your fingers, hands or any
metal object in the solution or touching the tank could close a
circuit through you and give you a very bad electrical shock.

Don’t drop anything heavy on the bottom of the tank. The transducers
are ceramic crystals that are fragile. They can be broken if this
happens.

Other way crystals get broken are by running the cleaner without
solution or very little solution in the tank. Or when changing the
solution be sure the old solution has cooled down before replacing it.
When a sonic has been running the transducers get hot. If they are
suddenly cooled it can crack them.

Having started and run a successful production shop where we produced
all kinds of findings I can understand that equipment upkeep is
sometimes difficult. But it is essential to the overall longevity of
your equipment. As with all equipment regular service and/or care
needs to be done. For an ultrasonic: it should be wiped down with a
water moistened cloth each day to remove the soap that has been
splashed and dripped. Most soaps are caustic and if left on the unit
will start to eat away the metal parts. Also if they are allowed to
build up they can eventually get to the circuit board and cause
shorts. When cleaning the unit DON’T ever put it under water (running
or otherwise). The sonics are not sealed and when water gets inside
it will get to the circuit. The lack of wiping the unit down daily is
the cause of the majority of sonics failing. This is an accumulated
problem. It happens over a period of time not right away.

When running the cleaner be sure the liquid is at the proper level.
If the unit is heated this means not less than 1" below the rim of the
tank. The heating elements are placed on the side of the tanks and on
smaller units (less than 1 gal.) the heating elements normally are
about 1" down from the rim. The heating elements are designed to
produce a significant amount of heat for their size and without the
solution covering them they will burn out. If your unit is not heated
the same liquid level is suggested however it is not as critical. The
level could go down an inch or so before you endanger the transducers.

The type of solution you use can cause problems for your ultrasonic.
Water with a very little amount of soap is the recommended solution.
Unless you have specifically purchased a unit from the mfg. that is
made for ammonia or other degreasers do not use them. The sonics that
are sold in the jewelry and dental industries are not made for it and
when placing ammonia in one, the cleaner will change it into a mild
acid. Also some manufacturers have found that ammonia and red rouge
for some reason will attack the circuit. The last time I talked with
them they still had not figured out what was happening.

The tank being metal will wear out with use on all units. When the
transducers are working the electrical pulses force them to physically
change shape. This shape changing is what creates the ultrasound. When
the transducers change shape this motion is transmitted to and
through the tank. Imagine taking a piece of sterling flat stock that
is 1/2 hard and bending it back and forth many times. What happens?
There will be a line where the metal gets progressively weaker until
it breaks. Just before breaking it will have developed very tiny
holes in that weak area. This is the exact same thing that is
happening to your sonic tank. All of the smaller sonics use tanks that
have been drawn down. So the weakest and thinnest points are the
corners. These are the places normally that will form tiny holes
first. Some cleaners operate at frequencies that will cause the tank
to deteriorate where the transducers are mounted. The more aggressive
the cleaner is the faster these holes will be created.

One manufacturer claims that in their unit if metal filings are left
on the bottom of the tank this too will increase the speed of tank
deterioration. This mfg. makes one of the most aggressive ultrasonic
cleaners on the market.

When running your cleaner don’t let anything rest on the bottom
unless it is plastic or rubber and not very heavy. Again if metal is
placed on the bottom of the tank the vibration will eventually rub a
hole in the tank. On an ultrasonic the last thing you want to replace
is the tank. The reason is that you can’t just replace the tank. The
transducers have to be replaced as well. They cannot be salvaged. So
if you have a basket that sits on the bottom of the tank rather than
being suspended make sure it has plastic or rubber feet on it. These
baskets are not ideal for other reasons as well. Anything that sits on
the bottom of the tank will reduce the ultrasonic activity. It dampens
the ability of the transducers to move the tank bottom and will
overheat the transducers which leads to broken transducers. The best
way to clean parts is to suspend them. There are many ways to do this.
A basket that uses the rim of the tank for support, a suspended beaker
or a wire (insulated).

Again when using any metal object in the cleaner be sure the unit is
off before removing it or use some kind of electrically insulated
covering on your hands to remove it. I have never gotten shocked this
way but I have gotten shocked from transducers. Transducers can
create a large electrical charge from being heated and cooled, by
striking them or applying pressure. They hold the charge for a very
long time if not discharged and when replacing them it is easy to get
shocked from them a couple of times. Believe me when I say it will
only happen a couple of times! After that you have a fear of being
shocked so strong that you can block out a nuclear explosion if it was
set off right next to you! A shock from the cleaner while it is
running is much worse becuase the shock continues as long as the unit
is running.

Always make sure the ground prong on the plug is in good shape. Don’t
remove it. It needs to be there for safety. If your outlet doesn’t
accept a 3 prong plug change the outlet and make sure it is grounded.

When adding soap to the water in the tank it is better to have too
little than too much. The first and most important job of the soap is
to reduce surface tension so the water will degauss. Remember any
trapped gas in the solution will hinder the sonics ability to work at
top efficiency. After degassing the soap will have some ability to
help clean. However too much soap will reduce the effectiveness of the
ultrasonic activity. The ultrasonic action uses the molecules in the
solution to clean or tear the dirt off the item by stretching them
and them collapsing them rapidly. So any trapped gases will act as a
cushion and will not allow the ultrasonic to work as well as it
should.

Think of it this way. If you took a hammer to a ball what happens?
The hammer will slightly collapse the ball and the hammer will be
bounced off of it but the majority of the force will be absorbed by
the ball. The ball in this case is gas in the solution and the hammer
is the ultrasonic waves. All soaps for any purpose have as one of the
very fist ingredients a wetting agent. This allows the water to become
wetter and reduce surface tension. In our use this allows the gasses
to be expelled quickly. Try this experiment: Empty your cleaner.
Rinse it and place fresh tap water in it. Turn it on. You will see
some of the gasses come to the surface. If you let it run for several
hours the majority of the remaining gasses will come out. But instead
place a drop or two of soap in the water while it is running. Within
a few minutes you will see a large amount of gas coming out.

This gas that is released is released because the surface tension has
been reduced. If you were to try and clean a part without the use of
soap you would find it takes a very long time. This is because of high
surface tension. And you don’t want your pieces to be in an
ultrasonic for long. If you remember my last post with the aluminum
foil. The ultrasonic can do this same thing to your pieces if left in
too long.

As far as heating for silver. I can’t understand why not. Unless
someone is using some chemical that would cause a reaction. It may
have to do with the fact that they didn’t rinse the soap off the parts
after cleaning and when it cooled it tarnished. But if you use water
and soap then rinse you shouldn’t have a problem. The heat will help
loosen the greases or oils on the piece.

I hope this helps. Take care.

#3 Email to a member of Orchid 01/08/01:

I posted a new message on orchid in response to Dave Sebaste. it has
more on cleaning, maintaining and do’s - don’ts which you might find
helpful.

The plastic will absorb the sonic waves. All that will be able to
clean is what passes through the holes. The only good containers are
beakers, metal baskets and metal trays. I don’t recommend glass jars
because they are not made to withstand the ultrasound and I wouldn’t
want anyone to be cut by a glass container that shattered. Beakers are
okay because they are made to withstand many stresses. Any container
has to be ‘rigid’ so that it will not absorb the waves and instead
allow the waves to pass right through. This means no plastics and no
rubber items. Another way is to suspend a piece from a wire hung
across the sides of the sonic.

Ideally nothing should set on the bottom of the tank. Again this
dampens the bottom of the tank and makes it very hard for the
transducers to move the bottom and create the sonic action. For
instance, if you had a board setting on a table and struck it with a
hammer the board would bounce but set something with some weight on
the board and hit it with the hammer again and the board may still
move but not nearly as much as without any weight holding it down.

The best containers are those that are suspended from the rim of the
sonic. Special beaker plates are made for suspending them. Trays and
baskets are also made that suspend from the rim of the sonic. You will
always maintain the quality and efficiency of your sonics cleaning
when the transducers are allowed to move the tank bottom freely.

I would have to say also that the thinner the ‘pan’ the better. So an
enameled pan would not work very well because of it’s thickness and I
believe the enamel would act to absorb the sonic waves.

As for the tanks ‘self destructing’ that is due to the constant
bending from how the transducers create the sonic waves. The
transducers are cylindrical (most times) disks. They vary in diameter
and thickness as well as how many are used. When the current is
applied to them they actually change shape. Then when the current is
turned off they change shape again. An easy explanation is this; think
of them growing taller and skinnier then fatter and shorter. This
happens thousands of time every minute. So this shape changing
actually moves the tank bottom back and forth, sort of, and creates
the ultrasonic waves. Like I said in my second post, if you take a
piece of sterling and bend it back and forth several times it will
begin to weaken and tiny holes will form and eventually it will break.
This is what I mean when I say they all self destruct. This is
something all mfg. have been at a loss to prevent. Materials that
wouldn’t break down from that action won’t transmit the sonic action
effectively enough to make the unit clean anything. On the other hand
materials that transmit the sonic action better breakdown faster. So
it’s a balancing act that has trade offs. Then throw in the different
frequencies that can be used and you can see this quickly becomes a
manufacturing nightmare.

The most aggressive (fastest cleaning) sonics will literally eat
through their tanks very quickly and the slower cleaning sonics will
last a very very long time.

Your right many people want to use ammonia or some kind of degreaser
with the sonic and unless you have specifically purchased a degreasing
ultrasonic from the mfg. you will destroy your sonic very quickly. It
is obvious when this has happened and the mfgs won’t honor a
warranty. They all specify not to use these chemicals. Water based
solutions only are proper for the sonic. So when people place a
solution in a beaker and place the beaker in the sonic they can get
the benefits of sonic and the solution without voiding the warranty
and destroying the unit.

As to your last question. There is a simple answer and not so simple
an answer. If I were to buy one I would chose from about 3
manufacturers. However my needs are not the same as everyone else’s
and that is why there are so many different mfgs. The things to
consider aRe:

How fast do you need the cleaning done.

What are you cleaning. Both item and ‘dirt’ (oils, grease, dirt,
investment…).

How big are the items and how intricate are they.

How many pieces will need to be cleaned per day.

And lastly what kind of stones are you putting in it and how are they
set.

If your buying for a retail store a small unit (1 - 3 quart) that
cleans in the middle range for speed and strength. I say that because
you never really know what kind of stone is going into it. Unless you
want to grade the stone before placing it in. I doubt any store has
the personnel to be able to do that on that kind of demand. So a very
strong action could break a stone where as a milder action may not.
And speed isn’t a critical consideration.

Buying for a volume manufacturer would be at the other end of the
spectrum. Having volume means you need fast aggressive cleaning. Or
many smaller slower cleaners. Because the units are so expensive they
opt for the fast aggressive cleaners.

That’s a real simple answer and I didn’t take into consideration the
size of the parts and the complexity and what they were trying to
clean off of the parts.

So depending on what your needs are I could recommend a brand for
you… … I have a strong desire to help everyone in the industry
with good honest and service…

#4 Email to a member of Orchid 01/09/01:

Your GemOro unit is a good unit. It is actually made by Sonix IV.
They are separate unrelated companies. If you are replacing it, what
is wrong with it? These units have a 2 year warranty on the circuit
board and a 10 year warranty on the transducers. One of the best
warranties in the industry.

If you are doing large items a 3 quart or larger unit would be best.
If you are doing several large pieces at once you could need a 5, 6 or
9 quart unit. I suspect a 3 quart unit would probably work for the
most part. Sonix IV/GemOro units are very good units as far as their
action is concerned. That’s one of the reasons we carry them. They
are a little higher than average on aggressiveness. Yet they will last
a long time. The warranty is also very good and they stand behind it
very well. With all that you have stated I would also say to make
sure you have a heated unit. If your current unit doesn’t have a
heater I can add one for between $50 - $70. The heat will help soften
the greases and oils which makes it easier for the sonic to clean.

I would always suggest repairing a piece of equipment over buying
new. It will always save you money. If you don’t send equipment to us
make sure the people you send it to give a free estimate before making
any repairs. Most places won’t do this, we do. We also pay return
shipping to you on all repairs. So you won’t incur additional charges
from that. Most companies mark up the shipping charges instead of
charging actual costs.

Basically I believe it is in your best interest to buy new equipment
only when yours can’t be repaired economically or when a new piece of
equipment does something that your current one doesn’t do or the new
one does it better. I know most jewelry companies have a room or
storage that is full of broken equipment that they replaced and that
could be repaired for a fraction of the cost of new. They just never
had some place to send it for repair other than the mfgs. and they
didn’t want the hassle. That is why I started this repair business.

This past year I had someone send two 30 year old sonics in for
repair. They had vacuum tubes in them so you know they were old. Well
the tanks were like brand new and repairing these units to their
original specs would be costly so I suggested upgrading them by
putting new transducers and circuit boards in them. The cost was less
than he would have spent for a new unit. I called him after he had a
chance to use them and he was very pleased. So that’s my argument for
repair first then replace.

If you do replace your unit I would suggest the GemOro or Sonix IV
units or Crest and HealthSonics make good units and there are others.
I can get you their if you want it. They are all good
units that will last, and clean well. If you feel the GemOro isn’t
strong enough you can always go to something like an Elma. However the
Elma units are very aggressive and you will probably have some kind of
problem in about 1 to 2 years. They are usually good about warranty
items but they are a German company so it does take some time to get
parts. Their warranty isn’t as long as Sonix IV. I believe it is a 1
year warranty.

I must say I have a love hate relationship with Elma units. They
clean very fast and that’s great but they absolutely will not last for
as long as others. They also cost more usually. Elma has come out with
a less expensive version but it still won’t last long.

I would not recommend an Elma for any stones. They are so powerful
that they will push the stones to their limit. And having a cleaner
break a stone is the last thing you want.

For prong set stones you will want a cleaner that is in the range of
the Sonix IV - GemOro - Crest - Healthsonics range. I believe the
Crest is a little less aggressive than the Sonix IV - GemOro units and
the HealthSonics are a little more aggressive than that. HealthSonics
is a good company also and they have recently reworked their circuit
board so it is even more reliable. They do pump a good amount of power
to the transducers so it will clean very well.

Since you are used to the GemOro I would not recommend a Branson or L
& R as they don’t have the power these others do. They clean well
enough but they clean slower. Usually taking a step down in speed is
not satisfying for people. The Bransons also only come in a white
plastic case that very quickly gets dirty and is nearly impossible to
clean. I had a guy send one for repair and even though the repair was
less than $120 he said to keep it because it just got too dirty and
didn’t want his customers to see something like that.

I hope this helps. If you are interested in repairing your cleaner we
can do that or if you want a new cleaner we can help with that as
well. In any case I hope your business has a very good year.

If I can answer any other questions don’t hesitate to ask.

I hope this all gets posted but if it gets edited down please feel
free to email me or call (1-877-262-2185) and I can and will answer
any questions about ultrasonics and any other equipment used in the
industry. We don’t just repair ultrasonics so we are a one stop
source for all your equipment and repair needs.

Ken Kotoski
MPG Repair
www.mpgrepair.com

We repair the tools jewelers use.


#3

Hello folks: I believe Ken has hit the nail on the head with regard
to fingers in the ultrasonic. Occasional “finger in the tank” is not
a problem. Like x-ray exposure the damage is cumulative and in the
long run it is NOT good for your tender body to abuse it with putting
your fingers into a running ultrasonic cleaner. Plastic beakers of the
"beer bust" persuasion can be used for cleaning with solutions that
will be discarded after use. The best beakers for cleaning are metal,
followed by tempered glass. The beakers should be supported so they do
not come in contact with the bottom of the tank. If you contact the
ultrasonic maker I am sure they can provide you with a beaker
positioner cover for your machine. It will keep the beakers off the
bottom and improve cleaning without danger of the beaker tipping over
and loosing the contents into the main tank. Ring “trees” are not such
a good idea. Rather take #12 insulated house wire and make a series
of “W”'s and be sure that the wire is situated so as to keep the
entire ring/object to be cleaned below the liquid level. There are
commercial ring racks available that hang onto the tank rim and keep
the items to be cleaned in the solution. With regard to transducers
and heaters failing. The problem as we see it here is that the user
lets the machine/heater run all day long. By allowing the water level
to fall below the heater it self destructs as there is no water to
absorb the heat produced and it burns up. Imagine what would happen if
you put a brick on the accelerator of your car and let the engine run
full out for an entire day. Electronic machines like an ultrasonic
is either full off or full on, there is no half throttle. You can
extend the life of your machine by using it when you need it and
turning it off when the cleaning is done. Also be sure that the
solutions are clean. You have no idea how fast a 1 point diamond can
eat through a tank and cause an electrical short. Ken’s advice about
wiping the unit down after you manually drain it or change solutions
is right on.

Mike & Dale
The ultrasonic repair guys
"If you don’t need us today we’ll be here tomorrow"
Lone Star Technical Services


#4

Boy talk about bad science. You stand as much chance getting
electrocuted from an ultrasonic transducer as from walking on a wool
carpet and then touching a light switch. In both cases, the voltages
are very high but there is no current driving them. Both will give
you a shock but unless you have a really bad heart and set up a
current path through the heart neither will hurt you. When the
ultrasonic is in use, the transducers are “Driven” excited or what
ever term you want to use by the electronics of the unit. They are
users of electricity in this mode, not a generator. If the
transducer was able to generate the voltages required to give you a
shock while in the circuit of the ultrasonic, they would destroy the
transistors.

Don