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  1. #1
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    Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    For the greater good of the hobby I am taking a part of one of my scrap model kits and running a wheel of it (which was painted a long time ago) through the ultrasonic cleaner a few times. I am using:

    water
    dish soap

    and I'll report on how it does. I have not seen anything on the internet regarding putting plastic model kit parts into an ultra-sonic cleaner, so I am going to do it for us and see what kind of results- good or bad- that we get. For metal parts- like my airbrush- it works very well cleaning them.

    Medium temperature water, dish soap. 3 minutes per pass (maximum setting)

    Pass 1- nothing. (3min)
    Pass 2- nothing. (6min)
    Pass 3- nothing. (9min)
    Pass 4- nothing. (12min)
    Pass 5- nothing. (15min)

    At least with my situation, warm water and soap is cleaning the surface, but not removing the layer of acrylic paint that is on the part. Using paint thinner is a very bad idea- because it will eat the plastic. Because this is a test piece, I will try a 25/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and warm water to see what happens.


    3 parts Medium temperature water to 1 parts Isopropyl alcohol. 3 minutes per pass (maximum setting)

    Pass 1- nothing. (3min)
    Pass 2- paint is noticeably more saturated (6min)
    Pass 3- paint is gently being eaten away (9 min)
    Pass 4- paint is gently being eaten away (12min)
    Pass 5- most paint has been eaten away. Some remains (15 min).

    The mixture inside the tank is very warm/hot and the super glue bond has been destroyed between wheel halfs (no damage to wheel halves). Structurally, the plastic seems ok. I'm going to push this further since it is a test part. The polycap part, which is rubber, has survived with no noticeable defects or structure compromise.

    Pass 6- most paint has been eaten away. Some remains (18 min)
    Pass 7- most paint has been eaten away. Some remains (21 min)
    Pass 8- 90% of paint has been removed. (24 min)

    The parts are good for priming again. It seems that most of the paint is gone, but not all of it. Again, this paint has been on these parts for about 1-2 years. With this complex of a geometry, I am sure that an ultrasonic cleaner with the mix I recommended will clean plastic parts and not damage them structurally. For washing parts to prep for paint- I would recommend water and soap. I am going to run a project's parts through there to get them ready for paint.
    Last edited by Jfl0; July 26, 2014 at 8:42 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    Thanks for doing this test and posting this. I've been looking at getting an Ultrasonic cleaner, so this is useful information to know!

  3. #3
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    Quote Originally Posted by Shponglefan View Post
    Thanks for doing this test and posting this. I've been looking at getting an Ultrasonic cleaner, so this is useful information to know!
    No problem. I am glad it was of use to you. I can say that ultrasonic cleaning like this is good at taking paint off of complex geometry like the interior of a wheel where it is very difficult to sand or file. I just ran 1/100 MG Wing Zero Proto's parts through the cleaner with mostly warm water and a little dish soap and the parts are cleaned (really, clean) dried and ready to be mounted for painting. No structural weakness or defects that I can see.

  4. #4
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    This would be better with pictures. Some people might not know what an ultrasonic cleaner is.

    Here's a trick i picked up from GameraBaerne; I put a cup filled with lacquer thinner in the middle of the water so that it doesn't affect the machine. As you can see, using a plastic cup was stupid,a glass cup would probably be better. The thinner ate through the plastic cup, one of the reasons the video is less than 40 seconds. XD



    Those little pieces of white in the cup are actually tiny particles of primer that were stuck in crevices of the brush.


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  5. #5
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    This thread is making me want to break out my ultrasonic cleaner again. Haven't used it in a long time after I failed in using it to clean an airbrush nozzle. In hindsight, I may have been too impatient since multiple passes seems to be the norm when it comes to these things.
    "Typical. If I had a sense of humor left I might find that funny. I do not, on both accounts."

  6. #6
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    Quote Originally Posted by Dlinker View Post
    This thread is making me want to break out my ultrasonic cleaner again. Haven't used it in a long time after I failed in using it to clean an airbrush nozzle. In hindsight, I may have been too impatient since multiple passes seems to be the norm when it comes to these things.
    Hot water and a simple degreaser (I used something similar to simple green) and it should go to work.

  7. #7
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    I skipped out on hot water completely, opting only for non-diluted Simple Green, so that's definitely worth a shot. I'll give it a whirl if the nozzle is still mucky inside after being immersed for the past two days. If all else fails, time to break out the brake fluid.
    "Typical. If I had a sense of humor left I might find that funny. I do not, on both accounts."

  8. #8
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    Hot water is much more effective with a cleaning agent. The water will be heated by the cavitation process regardless, but pouring in hot water from the get go gets things moving. I would advise a few passes especially if old stuff is caked in there. Might take a bit- but it will improve things. This process got my airbrush ridiculously clean.

  9. #9
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    Re: Ultrasonic Cleaning and Styrene

    Noted for the next nozzle clean-up session. Immersing the nozzles in Simple Green for two days helped a lot in loosening the gunk inside, but I still had to scrape it out with the paper towel/toothpick combo so that will be something I'll keep an eye on when I use the ultrasonic cleaner. Not bad overall, lowered the amount of time cleaning to a mere 20 min with no complications.
    "Typical. If I had a sense of humor left I might find that funny. I do not, on both accounts."


 

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