Creating the Perfect Custom Parts Washing Baskets for Pratt Whitney

September 28, 2015 | Custom Wire Baskets, Wire Forms, Mechanical Engineering

Custom Mesh Baskets with a lid and handles - stainless steelMarlin Steel’s engineers have helped many different clients tackle a variety of production challenges with custom steel wire basket designs.

For example, a while back Marlin Steel was contracted to create a custom parts washing basket for Pratt & Whitney, a leading company in the field of designing, manufacturing, and servicing aircraft engines.

What Were the Challenges in Designing the Basket?

As a manufacturer of parts for airplane engines, Pratt & Whitney is required to meet very demanding tolerances and safety regulations. There is very little room for error in aircraft maintenance and design since lives are literally hanging in the balance.

Because of this, each custom parts washing wire basket needed to meet exacting tolerances and performance standards.

Additionally, the baskets would be exposed to an alkali-based cleaning solution with a PH value of 13 in three separate hour-long cleaning cycles that approached 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finally, the parts being washed were very small fasteners that would be placed on sophisticated gear assemblies later in the manufacturing process. The small size of the fasteners meant that the open area of the wire mesh couldn’t be too large, or else the parts would fall right out of the basket.

To overcome these challenges, Marlin Steel’s engineers made several tweaks to the design of the basket.

How the Basket Design Was Customized to Accommodate Pratt & Whitney’s Needs

One of the first suggestions that Marlin Steel’s engineers made was to coat the basket with a thin layer of nylon to protect the parts from getting scratched by the steel wires of the basket. This helped to reduce scrap and keep the fasteners pristine for their installation.

An additional benefit of using a coating for this basket was that it provided some extra protection for the basket itself from the alkali cleaning solution that the client used in their cleaning process.

When the engineering team learned the size of the fasteners that Pratt & Whitney’s manufacturing team were processing, Marlin’s engineers decided to set the spacing of the wire mesh to be eight openings per linear inch. This would be more than close enough to prevent fasteners from falling out during the cleaning process, while still allowing excess liquid and debris to drain away.

To further ensure that parts would not fall out of the basket, a hinged lid with a steel latch was added to the design. This way, even if the basket tipped over or was dropped, the parts being washed would remain inside.

A set of handles were added to allow the basket to be moved easily through Pratt & Whitney’s manufacturing process using either manual or automated methods. The amount of space between the handles and the top of the basket were made to be spacious enough to allow a gloved hand to easily fit through.

The end result was a durable, reliable parts washing basket that was perfect for protecting Pratt & Whitney’s small fasteners through their finishing process.

Meeting all of the client’s needs for the basket design required a complete understanding of the client’s process, the parts, and the environment the baskets would be subjected to day in and day out. Using this information helped guide the development of the design to create the perfect custom parts washing basket Pratt & Whitney required to meet their own production goals.

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