If you’re a fan of the popular sci-fi series Star Trek, you will sometimes hear its character refer to sonic showers as the way the crew stays clean in space. And while no great detail is ever given as to how sound would be used to clean the human body, sound is already being used for cleaning items such as delicate jewelry, surgical instruments, lenses, and many other small, intricate objects. This is science fact. Eventually sound could also make cleaning big objects like houses or machines much more efficient. Let’s look at how cleaning with sound works.
How Sound Waves Work
Before we can explain how sound is used to clean things, it is necessary for us to explain a little bit about sound waves. Sound waves are created when the air around an object is disturbed, causing the air to vibrate. Humans then translate these vibrations into signals that our brains can interpret into sound. However, not all sound can be heard by humans. Sounds that occur at ultrasonic frequencies can often not be detected by human beings at all. This is the principle behind utrasonics.
Cleaning With Ultrasonic Devices
Cleaning with ultrasonic energy requires the use of a transducer. How thoroughly a given object is cleaned depends on the quality of the transducer one is using. As it now stands, most ultrasonic cleaning occurs in conjunction with a cleaning liquid. Sound waves enter the cleaning liquid, where the formation and collapse of minute bubbles begin. These bubbles then rise to the surface, carrying with them the dirt, dust and other contaminations. The advantage to cleaning with sound is the same as that of nondestructive testing – it does so without damaging the object. All kinds of devices can be cleaned using sound such as guns, firearms, medical equipment, jewelry, etc. Moreover, industrial ultrasonic cleaners are used in the automotive, sporting, printing, marine, medical, pharmaceutical, electroplating, industries as well.
In short, science is just scratching the surface what sound can do. Sound can also be used in weapons, for communications and of course is the basis for our NDT equipment. Our ultrasonic immersion testing equipment can detect leaks and other imperfections without harming the test materials or parts.