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I think I want an ultrasonic cleaner?

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  • #16
    I have also wanted one of these for years.. and have recently done farr too much reading, trying to make a decision.. I am leaning toward either a 10L or 15L tank.

    I had been trying to follow the advice of buying a nice pro unit from a dentist, etc. I am done waiting on that, and going chinese

    There is quite a lot of decent feedback on forums, like garage journal, for the chicom stuff. Of course you can always get a lemon. And sometimes brands that were previously good can cheap out. Example of good recent experience from the GJ forum:

    "I have 2 L&R ones... A tiny one and the BIG one that's like $3,600 MSRP.

    I wanted something in the middle, a 15L. So I bought the Chinese one off eBay that they all throw their name on. $150 or whatever.... Use it at least every other day for 20+ minutes and it just keeps kicking ass. I have to recommend them."


    It has been suggested by many to avoid the digital units and stick with the knob based units. That makes perfect sense to me, because the pcb that does the digital panel and controls has a processor and talks to the main controller via digital signals. That's a lot more to go wrong. Digital looks fancy but it is a liability, especially when you consider moisture inside the enclosure is a huge challenge.

    Recent price trends.. the analog units are dropping in price more than the digital. They all have become very inexpensive. In searching ebay and message posts, I'm looking for info on which "brands" and sources may be better, or even different. Often with chicom, if a brand does well, the brand gets stolen. You cannot rely upon photos because what is delivered is often different (and there is almost always a disclaimer about that)

    One thing I look at on ebay is the number sales for a particular unit.

    An important difference may be the number of transducers. More is better, because it means even signal across the tank. Many of the digital units indicate the 10L models have 4, and the 15L have 6. The analog units never seem to mention the count. I've sent messages to sellers asking. Replies have not been quick. Often it seems many of the sellers are just fronting for the same distributor. For example, the origin is either CA or NJ. I don't want to get a unit and find it only has one or two big transducers. That is a deal breaker and would push me toward a digital control unit.

    Gross power per liter tends to be 24 watts in this tank size. Larger tanks apparently need a bit less power per volume, due to less loss from tank walls.

    Duty cycle is a concern. Some of the analog units only have 20 minute timers. The digitals tend to be 30 minutes, though that does not mean they have more longevity. L&R are usually 60 minutes. Running them longer tends to shorten life. The transducers are electro-mechanical, and are bonded to the tank. That bond wears out. L&R warranties the bond on their expensive units for 10 years.

    Linked elsewhere in this thread is a unit. It is interesting there is a photo of the bottom, and it shows a fan. That is a good sign, for longevity, if it actually has a fan. Units that look just like that one are all over ebay, but they don't include a bottom photo or mention a fan. That's odd, because it seems like a selling point that would be mentioned.

    I did see a teardown video of a unit. The pcb was uncoated. So opening the unit up and spraying pcb's to protect against moisture, checking ground connections for safety, etc, is probably a good idea.

    The zokop 10L analog units are $95. 15L units are down to $116 shipped. Just a month or two ago they were $145. Is that decrease due to a cheapening of product quality? Or is it competition/demand?

    These prices are getting toward throw-away. But the opimizer in me always seems to want to choose well.

    Wondering if anyone else has had any recent experiences.

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    • #17
      I bought one yeas ago for cleaning carbs and was very excited to use it for the first time on a grungy old carb. The parts were nice and clean and the engine ran fine but it took me a couple hours to figure out why it was leaking gas. The ****ing cleaner rubbed a hole in the bowl. I couldn’t get a new one. I think I had to buy a new carb. Haven’t used a cleaner since.
      -Roland
      Golf Course Mechanic

      Bedminster NJ

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      • #18
        Originally posted by rmcphearson View Post
        I bought one yeas ago for cleaning carbs and was very excited to use it for the first time on a grungy old carb. The parts were nice and clean and the engine ran fine but it took me a couple hours to figure out why it was leaking gas. The ****ing cleaner rubbed a hole in the bowl. I couldn’t get a new one. I think I had to buy a new carb. Haven’t used a cleaner since.
        This is a point that doesn't receive enough attention. Parts will vibrate against the wire screen and against themselves i.e. its a big no-no for rolling element bearings for example. They are great when used properly but aren't a cure all. Mine gets a lot of use, but where I can (part size allowing) I use the L&R mastematick style wash/rinse/dry machine.

        Using the right fluid will shorten the time you need the parts in the UC. I just use simple green and water preferring not to boil off solvents in the house. That requires a rinse step and for steel, pretty much an immediate dry/shot of WD40 so it doesn't rust
        in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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        • #19
          Originally posted by rmcphearson View Post
          The ****ing cleaner rubbed a hole in the bowl. I couldn’t get a new one. I think I had to buy a new carb. Haven’t used a cleaner since.
          How long did you leave it in the cleaner? What fluid type?

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post

            This is a point that doesn't receive enough attention. Parts will vibrate against the wire screen and against themselves i.e. its a big no-no for rolling element bearings for example. They are great when used properly but aren't a cure all. Mine gets a lot of use, but where I can (part size allowing) I use the L&R mastematick style wash/rinse/dry machine.

            Using the right fluid will shorten the time you need the parts in the UC. I just use simple green and water preferring not to boil off solvents in the house. That requires a rinse step and for steel, pretty much an immediate dry/shot of WD40 so it doesn't rust
            Yes!! I always suspend (when possible) the parts with a piece of string. Good strong nylon snap line works well. No touching of the sides of the tank or container submersed in the tank If I do have to allow it to touch I try to use something soft like plastic.

            I wonder if the part is cleaned for too long there might be some cavitation cutting? JR.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Glug View Post

              How long did you leave it in the cleaner?
              Too long
              -Roland
              Golf Course Mechanic

              Bedminster NJ

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              • #22
                Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
                That was the one I was looking at. It looked impressive but the price and country of origin tell a different story. I was leery of it. I guess you lucked out.

                JL............
                I lucked out too. Bought a couple. One works for preparing instruments for sterilization daily. Another one is used occasionally in my shop. I think they are now about 2 and 3 y.o.

                No, I don't expect them to last for 25 years as my other units, but they also cost about 20 times less.
                Last edited by MichaelP; 10-22-2021, 12:35 AM.
                Mike
                WI/IL border, USA

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                • #23
                  I see they sell transducers and a pcb board on banggood so you can build your own. Anyone tried it.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by plunger View Post
                    I see they sell transducers and a pcb board on banggood so you can build your own. Anyone tried it.
                    For a second there I got induced into tranducers to fix my ailing US cleaner.

                    The problem I ran up against was the "potting" material they use to secure the transducer to the tank.

                    They all fall apart. If you find a good one please let me know. I have one loose transduser of four in a tank I cant use.

                    My transdusers arew about 2.25" on the mounting surface. I have tried many addhesives. No luck. . JR

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by plunger View Post
                      I see they sell transducers and a pcb board on banggood so you can build your own. Anyone tried it.
                      Doesn't seem practical, given how cheap the completed units are (15L are down to $110-130). You would need to buy a driver circuit, source controls, an enclosure, fan, pan, etc. I've been spending/wasting my time watching lots of repair videos on youtube. There are some very good explanations of how the circuits work, schematics, etc.

                      Even for a repair, there might be issues if only replacing one of multiples. I'd guess the transducers should be matched for impedance, since they are wired parallel, and a randomly purchased unit might not match. Of course I'm sure I'd try and fix one.

                      From reading and watching videos, it isn't clear to me that a certain brand is better than another (in these low cost china units). I think there is some luck to not get a 'lemon'. If you get a good unit, that's good. A bad one is bad. It would cost about $30 best case to send a unit back for "warranty" repair, assuming the repair is in the USA - so I'm not sure how valuable a warranty is. Does a warranty indicate better components or better bonding of transducers? Dunno.

                      I'm still hemming and hawing a bit on what to order, whether I'll go for a knob unit, etc. The Zokop knob units seem to have almost no warranty. I guess I'll need to try and use it a lot in the first 30 days. Is there really a difference between the $110 15L units and the $150-175?

                      One thing is certain, it's worth opening it up to check how the ground is wired, how the fuse is connected, etc. Probably smart to never touch the thing without cutting mains power via an external switch/power strip.

                      As JRouche mentions, bonding the transducers is apparently not trivial. Plastic absorbs the energy, glass and ceramics do not. So I'd guess the film should be as thin as possible. L&R warranties their transducer bond for 10 years, so there must be something special there. This might be an important difference between the china units, but I also wonder how many are produced in the same factory (though, even then, some with better components than others)

                      This advice gives some indication of just how tricky it is... And how much prep etc is required. Clearly mass cheap production requires some shortcuts.

                      https://www.ceramtec-industrial.com/...ng-transducers

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Glug View Post


                        As JRouche mentions, bonding the transducers is apparently not trivial. Plastic absorbs the energy, glass and ceramics do not. So I'd guess the film should be as thin as possible
                        [/url]
                        Well I think it comes down to need right? We dont all need a 3 gallon heated Ultronic cleaner right? I sure as heck dont, not always.

                        But when you do it is nice to fire up the 23.5 gallon tank, heat and all.. 1500 watts for the heating coils and 1500watts for the transducers.

                        Here is some insight. It does not clean faster or have more cleaning energy. LOL

                        Just a larger tank. The heated tank does help. Oh heat up 30gal of water, you need a nice AC link. JR

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                        • #27
                          I bought a small heated digital one from HF for $60. It works excellent on mower carbs and cycle carbs for 4 years now. It WILL DEGREASE HEAVY GREASE. It only hold about 1/2 gal. so on real gross parts,I pitch out the solution a few times.I am VERY IMPATIENT,so I usually start out with hot water from the sink.Edwin Dirnbeck

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                          • #28
                            ANOTHER SURPRISE,If you ever tried to clean up an old dirty alan screw for a classroom project, you will find it still leaves marks on a kleenex no mater how much you try.BUT ,if you put it in the ultrasonic ,it gets white glove clean.I surmise the ultra sonic gets down into the pores of the steel. Edwin Dirnbeck

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                            • #29
                              I discovered UC's are amazing for cleaning old vinyl records. You mount them on a spindle, with the bottom portion immersed and they are slowly rotated. I love that old idea, it seems like a perfect application. Patents go back to the mid 60's. Other methods to dig grit out of the plastic grooves seem so crude.

                              Those folks have done a lot of methodical experimentation into different frequencies and such. Higher frequencies - above the common 40khz - are better at getting into ever smaller areas. Some speciailist mfg's build their own UC, at higher frequency. It seems that may be more to raise the price and barrier to entry, and also cater to those who will pay for the best.

                              In some videos the power consumption and frequency of cheap units are measured. Not surprisingly, they tend to not meet spec.

                              I did see some mentions that these cheap units can be verry loud, and the ultrasonic can damage hearding. I'd guess the Bransons have plastic enclosures to absorb noise, even if it looks cheap.

                              From checking lots of feedback, it seems to be a complete toss of the dice whether you get a good or bad chinese unit. Brand and seller don't seem to matter, except maybe on getting the thing in the mail. Most all of them seem to come from NJ or CA, so there may not even be much variety in drop ship source. I ordered a 15L unit today, for $110.

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                              • #30
                                A watchmaker buddy sent a photo of an L&R he has for sale this morning and it had a feature I really like like - just a simple stainless bracket that sat over the top of the unit with two holes to in which you place glass beakers....here, found the L&R image https://www.lrultrasonics.com/_img/9...2.jpg?0=resize

                                Now that is good idea. I would think wear on the part would be less, but the main thing is you can just use water in the tank, a small quantity of whatever cleaning is appropriate in a container that is quick and easy to clean. As I understand it, the ultrasonic waves readily travel through glass
                                in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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