If you are a looking to introduce a valuable piece of equipment to your soldering hobby or profession, then an ultrasonic cleaner might be just the thing. Ultrasonic cleaners have the ability nowadays to clean printed circuit boards (PCBs) without doing the damage they once could. This is because most ultrasonic cleaners now use modulating, variable waves rather than one intense, singular movement wave. The variability provides a safer environment for the boards and does not allow for a focused sonic wave to damage one component. However, you might be asking why would I need an ultrasonic cleaner when there are PCB cleaning solutions on the market? While this is true, they do not always get into those hard to reach tiny places. An ultrasonic cleaner can vibrate throughout the board and remove smaller particles of flux left behind that a cleaner may not be able to get. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering an ultrasonic cleaner.
Choosing the Right Cleaning Solution
Obviously if you are going to spend the time to find the right ultrasonic cleaner, then you want to outfit yourself with the right solution to use in it. The wrong cleaner can do a lot of harm to your PCB when applied at certain frequencies. For electronics, cleaning solutions that work with glass, ceramics, optics, plastic, and PCBs such as the Elma Tec Clean A1 are optimum choices. They can remove flux, dust, and any other small particles that you do not want on your circuit board.
Prep your Solution and Device Properly
Some cleaning solutions require some modification before direct use with the PCB. This is because they can contain air bubbles. To remove the air, you can mix the solution with the proper amount of water and start the ultrasonic cleaner to remove the air. This also has the added bonus of mixing the solution and the water quite thoroughly. Once there are no more air bubbles, then you are ready to use the ultrasonic cleaner on your PCBs.