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Using ultrasonics on aluminum parts

Dear readers,

I would like to clean some aluminium parts and was considering using ultrasonics for the purpose. However, I am reluctant to do so as I use the aluminium foil test to check the operation of the cleaner and it dissolves the foil in a few minutes. What I don't want is to dissolve the aluminium jigs I am cleaning as the tolerances are perfect at the moment.

I was wondering if anyone knew of the effect of ultrasonics on aluminium and perhaps at what rate the cleaning would dissolve the aluminium.

I look forward to hearing some responses.


James Cotsell
solar engineering - Canberra, ACT, Australia

Select a cleaner that is suitable for the contamination you are trying to remove. Aluminium will dissolve in both acids and alkalis - what cleaner are you using? The rate of metal dissolution will be down to the strengths of the cleaner. Why not try aqueous based neutral cleaners that will not attack the metal?

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

July 2, 2008

Hi James,

I use ultrasonics to clean Alum parts all the time with no effects on the Alum.
The question to be asked are as follows:

1) What cleaner are you using in the ultrasonic bath?
Need to use an alkaline cleaner approved for ultrasonics

2) What frequency is your ultrasonic bath operating at?
Need to use 40kHz and above, nothing below this frequency.

3) What is the material thickness of the you are cleaning?
Alum foil is very thin, Parts made from .5mm thickness will not be affected using ultrasonics with 40kHz frequency.

4) What contamination are you cleaning from the parts?
You cannot get a cleaner that is a be all in one cleaner. The type of contamination will determine the type of cleaner .to be used to clean Alum parts
The answers to these questions will help you on your way.

Ian Ratcliffe
- Coolum Beach, Queensland, Aust.

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