Topic – Ultrasonic Cleaning

When disassembling cameras more often than not the individual pieces are in dire need of some cleansing. Soft tissue or the like is useful in many instances but I have more and more come to rely on the ultrasonic washer for a one-stop solution.

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The procedure is easy: Remove the dirty metal or plastic part from the camera. Fill the washer’s basin half-way with tepid water and a few drops of hand-washing detergent. Set timer to about 5 minutes and start it. That’s it.

The machine does not remove rust or corrosion but it finishes up all generally “dirty” surfaces. Often metal parts looks just as new after a few minutes in the high-frequency sound. It can remove som lighter oils but has no effect on the heavier petroleums.

This Trip came to me in a clear used shape. Hard to reach patches of fat and dust and dirt. Not a pretty sight:

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After an evening disassembling the top and the entire shutter cleaning each removed part in the ultrasonic washer it sure looked better. (Note that it also tore the Quality Control-tab badly so I had to remove it unfortunately):

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I usually drop all parts into the basin as I remove them. In the case of the Trip I now know where they should go, otherwise I also takes notes and/or photos of the pieces and where they came from.

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Ultrasonic washing works by putting the water into quick (40 kHz) compressions and expansions. Theoretically the water should also cavitate if the vibration amplitude is large enough. Cavitating is the process that when pulling water apart so quickly that it cannot comply, a vacuum bubble appears instead. That bubble then collapses violently. The implosion energy is local in a minute scale and causes local havoc with particles of dirt. I am not sure it that is happening here though. Anyway, as the pieces are surrounded  by quickly vibrating water it gets into every nook and cranny, even and specially, those that are not accessible by hand.

It makes an irritating scraping-like sound so leaving it in the kitchen and being elsewhere is a good idea. The ultra-sound itself is impossible for humans to hear but with a bat detector it makes a h*lluva din. Also I noticed that my always interested cat made an erratic dance and then made a very swift departure when I turned it on:)

I have found that the ultrasound washer has become… how do you say*… indispensable. Get one!

*) Pop-cultural reference (Top Secret, 1984. Watch it!)

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