How to build an ultrasonic cleaner

Updated April 17, 2017

An ultrasonic cleaner is a tank that has an ultrasound generating transducer built into the side or lowered into the fluid. A transducer is a material that will physically change shape when excited by an electrical pulse. When the transducer is excited it increases in size and the tank bottom or tank side will move. This movement creates a compression wave in the liquid of the tank, thus creating the ultrasonic cleaner.

An electrical generator that puts out a high frequency signal will cause the transducer to rapidly induce compression and rarefaction waves in the liquid. This will create a vacuum cavity within the liquid. The vacuum cavity will grow larger and smaller as the compression waves continue. When the vacuum cavity reaches a certain size the cavity coffee can no longer retain its shape. At this point, the vacuum cavity will collapse. There are millions of bubbles created that then collapse every second in this ultrasonic cleaner tank. These collapses are what clean the part in the tank. These collapses are so small that they are only capable of removing surface dirt and contaminants. The benefit to an ultrasonic cleaner is that the higher the frequency, the smaller the particles which allow for cleaning smaller items with more intricate detail.

Ultrasonic cleaners come in three sizes. The first is the small toylike system that can be use to clean contact lenses or jewellery. The second type of ultrasonic cleaner can be used as a dental equipment cleaner. The third type is the industrial heavy duty type with heavy compound transducers that produce high wattage. Here, we will tell you how to construct a homemade ultrasonic cleaner that is a combination of the three ultrasonic cleaner sizes. You will be able to make your ultrasonic cleaner in five simple steps, with five materials.

Turn the palm sander's On/Off switch to the "On" position. Do not plug it in.

Tape the palm sander to the bottom of the coffee can tightly enough so that vibrations from the palm sander will be transmitted into the coffee can.

Place foam along the sides and bottom of the bucket. The purpose of this foam is to isolate the coffee can so the bucket does not vibrate; only the coffee can vibrates.

Put water into the coffee can.

Plug the palm sander into the wall. The reason we had you turn the palm sander to the "On" position in the beginning was because now it would be difficult to reach the "On" switch.

After a few minutes, the palm sander will generate heat which will flow into the coffee can. This will cause the coffee can to expand and shrink. The heat generated will produce and provide for the collapses which cleans the item in the ultrasonic cleaner. Once the heat begins the process and the can has begun to expand and shrink, the sander may be turned off. The heat generated is not enough to burn or catch fire.


Cavitation erosion is the effect of a part being left for too long in the tank. So only keep the item you are cleaning in the ultrasonic cleaner long enough to take off contamination and debris.

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee can
  • Palm sander
  • Memory foam (between 1½ and 2 inches thick)
  • 5-gallon plastic bucket
  • Duct tape
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