Ultrasonic cleaning is recognized as one of the most effective ways to clean parts. All industries ranging from automotive to medical, heavy engine parts to fragile electronic semi conductor parts to critical surgical instruments utilize ultrasonic cleaning. Wherever cleaning is required you will find an ultrasonic cleaner.

Ultrasonic cleaners are available in different sizes and configurations. For example, a small bike shop may require a 3/4 - 1 ˝ gallon tabletop tank while a larger shop may need a three chamber industrial system that ultrasonically cleans and lubricates.

How Ultrasonics Work

“Ultrasonics” pertains to acoustic frequencies above the range audible to the human ear or above 20,000 cycles per second. For purposes of this paper, “ultrasonic” is used to describe sound above the range of audibility or any vibration frequency above normal hearing range (16 kHz or 16,000 cycles per second).

An ultrasonic cleaning system basically consists of a precision electronic generator which converts ordinary 50 or 60 Hz alternating electrical current to the desired frequency and a transducerized tank filled with a cleaning solution. The generator, cleaning tank and transducers comprise the heart of the system and are the only “ultrasonic” part of it. The generator supplies oscillating electrical voltage to the transducers at a frequency selected as best for the application. Most modern transducers are piezoelectric in the 40 kHz range. 40 kHz frequencies have exceptional penetrating capabilities with good power while producing much lower noise levels than 20 kHz systems.

The generator must produce a voltage which oscillates (expands and contracts) the transducer thousands of times per second, thereby invoking sound waves into the cleaning solution and producing a bubble formation known as cavitation. Therefore, the transducers must be matched to the output of the generator and be capable of producing ultrasonic sound waves of a magnitude and frequency which will result in these cavitation implosions. Cavitation occurs when sound waves compress and decompress in liquid to produce alternate zones of high and low pressures. During the low pressure cycle, tiny bubbles are formed, only to collapse in the high pressure of the next half cycle. This implosion or collapse is extremely violent since all energy is focused inward toward a central point. As the bubbles collapse, they release shock waves that, by their scouring action, dislodge soil from the surface of parts placed into the cleaning liquid.

Bicycle Parts Cleaning Procedures

Whenever possible remove heavy soils or debris (such as large deposits of grease and grit). Place drive train parts into basket (chains, derailleurs, cranks, etc.) being careful not to overload the basket. Place the basket into the ultrasonic cleaner for a pre-set period of time, usually 5 minutes. Overloading the basket may improve processing time, but parts will not be cleaned as thoroughly.

After cleaning, let parts flash dry and blow off excess solution with compressed air. Place cleaned/dried parts into ultrasonic lubricating pan or chamber for approximately 5 minutes. The 400L lubricant will continue to clean the parts and remove cleaning solution residue. After 5 minutes remove parts and blow off excess lubricant using compressed air. Additional lubrication or greases may be applied as desired.


Ultrasonic cleaning can prolong the life of expensive parts while improving the performance of the bicycle. Scrubbing or spray washing cannot clean chains or derailleurs as thoroughly as ultrasonics. There is no more thorough method of cleaning than ultrasonics.

The superb cleaning powers of ultrasonic cleaners, their speed and simplicity of operation and their ability to remove oils, greases and grit within minutes with little or no hand scrubbing, make them a valuable addition to any bicycle shop.

CMR Sales Inc.
540 Ravine Ct.
Wyckoff, NJ 07481