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What are the Different Types of Immersion Tank?

By Christian Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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An immersion tank can be any one of a variety of types of tank used for physical therapy, materials testing and cleaning and chemical treatments like electroplating and etching. Some types of immersion tank employ machinery designed to operate within the tank itself, like heaters and washers. Immersion tanks can be constructed from a variety of materials, including metal, glass, and plastics, depending on the intended use.

Immersion tanks serve many functions in manufacturing and other industries. Tanks used for cleaning may be designed to hold simple cleaning agents to remove scale and corrosion or to degrease items like engine parts. Some of these types of tanks may use devices called immersion washers, which normally utilize some type of brush or mechanical action to clean the object. Other types of immersion tank may use ultrasonic sound generators to remove dirt, rust, or other debris.

Electroplating is a common process in manufacturing. The process uses a weak electric current that passes through a solution containing dissolved ions of a metal or metal compound to chemically bond that metal to an object submerged in the solution. Most tanks used in electroplating are either lined with or made of plastic so as to provide a chemically neutral container for the process. Many other chemical treatments are often performed in immersion tanks, including etching, powder coating, anodizing, phosphate treatments, rust prevention treatments and decontamination.

Testing of machinery parts is sometimes performed in an immersion tank. Dyes are sometimes used to show minute cracks that may be difficult to detect by other means. Some types of testing tanks use ultrasonic scanners to detect faults, cracks or other imperfections in materials such as metal bars, plates, pipes or parts for machinery and engines. Immersion in liquid allows the ultrasonic scanner to perform its task much more efficiently and with a high degree of resolution. Other immersion tanks are used for paint testing and research.

Immersion tanks used in the health care industry are used for treating burns, muscle injuries and physical therapy. Many of these types of tank incorporate heaters, whirlpool devices or water jets and are usually made of stainless steel. Sensory deprivation tanks are another type of immersion tank intended for human use. These tanks are designed to allow a subject to float in a light-less, soundless environment and are used for hypnosis, meditation, and research.

The food packing and production industries often use immersion tanks. Foods may be washed, cooked, pickled or treated in immersion tanks. Some of these tanks are very large and capable of handling thousands of pounds of food. Most of these types of immersion tank are constructed from stainless steel or food-grade plastics.

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