Can you clean a printhead with ultrasonic cleaners?

You may have heard a difference of opinion over whether you can clean printheads with an ultrasonic cleaner. Some people say that you can, while others claim that doing so will damage the print head. So who’s right?

How Ultrasonic Cleaners Work

Ultrasonic cleaners use an immersion process called cavitation to clean. This means that the cleaner creates millions of tiny bubbles, which then burst to create a tiny vacuum. This process helps to dislodge dirt from the surface of the item that is being cleaned.

While this sounds like a completely natural process, with the Anilox cleaning equipment doing the hard work, that isn’t necessarily true. The issue is that ultrasonic cleaning can be damaging to thin membranes, such as those found in printheads.

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Damage to Thin Membranes

The problem with ultrasonic cleaners and thin membranes is often demonstrated with aluminium foil, aka the foil test. If you place a piece of foil in a cleaner and turn it on, the foil is quickly destroyed. This looks rather dramatic, but it isn’t as simple as it first seems. It isn’t just the ultrasonic vibrations that cause the foil to break apart; it Is a sonochemical effect that breaks the molecular bond in the water, releasing Hydroxyl molecules that act on the foil. This is a long way of saying that ultrasonic cleaners won’t necessarily destroy your printhead.

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The key is really the material from which the printhead is made. Expert cleaning companies such as will be able to advise whether the printhead you have is suitable for cleaning in this way. Canon, Epson, HP, Konica, and many more all have printheads that can be safely cleared with ultrasonic cleaners. To limit the risk, talk to your cleaner about the frequency at which their cleaner operates. The higher the frequency, the smaller the bubbles – and the less risk of damage to the printhead.

Benefits of Ultrasonic Cleaners

Ultrasonic cleaners are a simple way to get your printhead clear of any debris and dirt. The small bubbles work to powerfully remove the dirt that can lead to a degradation of the print quality, with tiny bubbles finding even the most stubborn piece of dust and removing it. You do need to partner with an expert provider, so make sure that the cleaning company you choose knows what they are doing and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

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