Converting A Sink To An Ultrasonic Cleaner

While ultrasonic cleaning might sound a bit like the “sonic shower” from Star Trek, this is actually one case where the futuristic-sounding technology predates its use in Sci-Fi. Ultrasonic cleaners have been around since the 50s and are used to clean all sorts of oddly-shaped or specialty objects by creating cavitation within a liquid that allows the surface of the object to be scoured. With the right equipment, these cleaning devices are fairly straightforward to build as well.

This ultrasonic cleaner by [Branchus Creations] started off as a standard stainless steel laundry sink, but with the addition of a few transducers it really turns up the volume. They are attached to the underside of the sink with a combination of a bolt and hard epoxy so that the sound is efficiently transmitted to the sink, but they’re not much use without driver boards to power them. These drivers take AC power and convert it to the DC required to generate the ultrasonic frequencies, and this build uses a driver for each of the transducers all wired up to a common control board for ease-of-use.

The results speak for themselves; a test is performed on a sheet of aluminum foil which quickly turns takes on a Swiss cheese appearance after just a couple minutes in the cleaner. It’s also shown cleaning rusty nails and a few other things as well. For other nontraditional cleaning methods, be sure to check out this wet media blast cabinet built from a 55-gallon drum.

Thanks to [Zane] for the tip!

40 thoughts on “Converting A Sink To An Ultrasonic Cleaner

  1. Wanted to do the same and purchased a transducer and driver board from my favorite Asian vendor of cheap parts. Shocked the ^*)*& out of me. Measure to ground before touching.

    1. This is one of those cases where you probably want a quality device.

      Transducers are essentially an LCR series component, and will have an associated center frequency and Q.

      Quality transducers will have a center frequency within 200 Hz of their rated frequency and will have a high Q factor, cheap transducers from Asian vendors are rejects, will have a frequency that is off center, and a low Q factor.

      Generally speaking, this means the transducers will not be very efficient and will heat up. If they heat up too much, it can crack the piezo element.

      1. Cant the improper placement of the transducers also negatively effect the q factor ? The shape of the sink will create areas of standing waves . How cand you determine the proper placement. If mounted wrong you will destroy even good transducers. Or you’ll have certain positions where the transducer will always fails. 🤷

  2. I’m not at all knowledgable in this area, and it might have been covered in the video, but how do you keep the different *frequncy generators* from creating waves that cancel each other out? Or is this not at alla concern?

    1. They all generate the same frequency. There might be standing nodes in sink, but as soon as you insert and manipulate some object inside, that pattern will change, so it’s not a problem. Unoptimal placement of transducers will just result in less efficiency, but unless you are really unlucky, it won’t be that much.

      1. And surely there will always be standing waves nodes. Unless the drivers sync up the nodes will actually move. Even just one transducer will set up standing waves. I’m guessing not stating.

  3. I looked into doing this to a kitchen sink in 2010ish and came away with enough “don’t”s to scrap the idea.

    1. It is apparently a nightmare to keep a garbage disposal drain from leaking. These have a clay-like interface with the drain that sits IN the sink water. This seal simple gets “cleaned” away. The only solution I found was to weld that ring into the sink.

    2. Some kinds of dishes don’t handle cavitation well. Stonewear can quickly be destroyed by it. Mugs that naturally get crazing, which might last a decade or more before getting real cracks from moisture+microwave, can be destroyed in a dozen washes or less since that crazing is the perfect seed location for cavitation.

    3. Transducers really need to have a good mechanical connection. Glue will fail. Hard glues will crack. Softer glues last longer, but that softness will cause heating/cooling cycles which will eventually fail. This means direct welding, or welding threaded flanges.

    In the end it was way too much skilled welding of thin stainless steel for a device that I couldn’t use to clean my plates, bowls, or mugs with.

      1. And I recon JB weld would work on stainless. It’s a good aluminum to aluminum thermal glue for LEDs. If it’s stainless to stainless I think it would work. My takeaway from this was how much power was needed. I thought 100w works be good enough for my sink. I guess I need to test the glue

    1. Tig, 25-30A, DC, 1.6 (I use rare earth or lanth for all purposes) electrode, shouldn’t need it but keep a 316L filler close to the job just in case.

      There’s half of 4 years of training in under a minute

  4. the video is nice i watched it when he released it. The action is very good as you can see with the al foil near the end. the only 2 issues i would have with it are first the drain needs done differently IMHO and secondly it needs a way to heat the liquid as well. Ultrasonic cleaners are amazing but add heat to them and they really become something special.

      1. My small ultrasonic cleaner doesn’t have a problem self heating. Might be different at this size but it is a lot of power. 100 dollar sous vide would solve the heating, maybe not for long.

    1. I think direct current or dc is used to power the ultrasonic devices. Dc is commonly used in electronics vs AC. So he converting his wall power to DC with the drivers to be compatible for the ultrasonic devices.

  5. It always makes me nervous when people mis-state simple things. I never know if they are dumbing it down for the audience or whether they really don’t know the difference.

    The ultrasonic transducer drivers do NOT produce DC. They produce AC at the resonant frequency of the transducers.

    The guy in the video consistently says that they produce DC, which is wrong. The outputs are marked “+” and “-” so that the phase is the same, not because it is DC.

  6. I don’t think I’d want this in my sink. These ‘ultrasonic’ transducers produce a LOUD noise that is still audible and very capable of damaging your hearing, which is why purpose-built ultrasonic cleaners put the transducers inside an enclosure, and they include a lid.
    I spent a few weeks in a hospital ultrasonic cleaning facility, and SOP was to close the lid, start the device and leave the room until the damn thing was finished because even with the lid on the noise was painful.

  7. If wiring two drivers out of phase maters any two at random are less than 50% effective on average time. I’d think they should be all in one phase. Ask the Navy about sonar pingers. I’d think in phase or an array that is steered but not random.
    Hearing experts say if you can’t hear it it still can cause hearing damage with respect to some ultrasonics. That thing is very loud. Maybe have no rats & mice etc. Ask marine animals when the Navy uses active sonar.

  8. Put your finger into an ultrasonic cleaner, feel the tingle, next day, notice how it turned black, that’s the internal bleeding from the destroyed cells. If you’re unlucky, visit your local surgery a couple of days later for the amputation.

    Keep your cells away from ultrasonic cleaners.

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