When creating a custom parts washing or materials handling basket, there are many different design factors to consider. Some important considerations include:
- How much weight the baskets will hold
- How much open space the basket needs
- How the baskets will hold parts/materials
- How long the basket will last
- The cost of the basket
These factors (and many others) impact the choices behind the basket build. One of the most important choices is whether to make the basket using wire mesh, perforated sheet metal, or expanded metal mesh. Recently, Marlin has seen an increase in custom basket designs that use expanded metal.
Why are clients requesting expanded metal baskets more frequently? What are the benefits compared to other basket types?
Here’s a short list of some of the benefits of using expanded metal baskets for parts washing and materials handling applications:
Benefit #1: Expanded Metal May Be Less Costly
Sheet metal baskets are expensive because they use more raw materials than other basket types. Perforated sheet metal has less material in the final product, but that material has to be cut out in the first place, so costs (and material waste) are higher than expanded metal. Steel wire baskets use less material, but they require more welding to make them strong, so costs may be higher than what expanded metal baskets cost (depending on how many wires are involved, the type of welds applied, and other factors).
Why are expanded metal baskets often less costly? Because the plates used for the expanded metal are compressed and stretched out during the expansion process without wasting any material. This means, pound for pound, expanded metal will cover a larger basket area than sheet metal—and without the material waste of perforated sheet metal. The extra rigidity of expanded metal vs steel wires also means less welding is needed, so there is less time, labor, and money spent on welding.
Benefit #2: Expanded Metal Baskets Are Stronger Than Wire Baskets
With woven or welded steel wire, many weak individual wires are joined to create a basket. However, when the weight of a held part or material load falls on a particular wire, that wire has to support the weight by itself. Welding joins wires so the weight is distributed, but it isn’t as efficient as using a single, solid piece of metal to distribute the weight.
With expanded metal baskets, the expanded metal mesh is a single, solid piece of material that can efficiently spread out the weight of the materials it holds—making it able to take more weight than a wire mesh basket of the same general size, thickness, and open space.
Overall, expanded metal baskets are stronger than their steel wire equivalents—though not quite as strong as a sheet metal basket.
Benefit #3: Expanded Metal Baskets Permit Good Air and Water Flow
Air flow is important for parts washing and finishing processes in manufacturing. If air flow is restricted, parts may not get cleaned properly in the first place, parts may not dry quickly, and residue may be left from the washing process. This is one reason why steel wire baskets are a popular choice for parts-washing applications (particularly aqueous parts washing).
However, a close second choice for parts washing is expanded metal baskets. While the open space for an expanded metal basket isn’t as precisely controlled as for a wire mesh basket, they do offer plenty of open space between the strands of the metal to allow air or water to flow easily through the basket.
Benefit #4: High Durability Compared to Wire Mesh Baskets
Because expanded metal strands are actually a single piece of material instead of a bunch of individual wires, expanded metal baskets tend to last longer than their wire mesh counterparts. The reasons for this improved longevity are twofold:
- The strands of expanded metal spread out impacts more efficiently than steel wires—reducing the effects of mechanical wear and tear on the basket.
- There are no welds to fail between the strands of an expanded metal basket—which further improves the basket’s durability compared to wire mesh.
While the difference probably shouldn’t be enormous between two well-designed and built custom baskets, the extra longevity of expanded metal can have a beneficial impact on the total cost of ownership over the years.
Overall, the benefits of using expanded metal baskets are that they are stronger than wire mesh, less wasteful of metal than sheet or perforated metal baskets, and offer a good balance of strength and air/water flow for parts washing applications.
Learn more about expanded metal baskets by reaching out to the Marlin Steel team, or download our guide to choosing baskets at the link below: