Manufacturers all across the globe frequently require custom containers for their products at one point or another. From plastic bins, to cardboard shipping boxes, to metal storage containers and wash baskets, there are many different kinds of containers that companies can use for their products.
Using the right type of basket or container to meet your needs can be a very important decision. How so?
Consider your company’s parts finishing process. Depending on what kind of parts you make and the surface condition/treatment requirements you have, you might put these parts through a number of different processes such as:
- simple washing;
- ultrasonic parts cleaning;
- heat treating;
- vapor degreasing; and
Just to name a few. Each of these processes put parts (and the baskets that hold the parts) through different stresses.
Consequences of Using the Wrong Basket
Using the wrong type of basket for a given process can result in damage to the basket, rendering it useless. Worse yet, parts themselves can become damaged.
Damaged parts will require refinishing in a best-case scenario, taking up extra time and resources to complete. At worst, the part might have to be scrapped entirely, wasting the labor and resources that went into it entirely.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for how to choose the right basket:
Tip #1: Consider the Parts Being Held
What are the characteristics of the part or parts that you’ll be processing in each load? As a manufacturer, taking into consideration the size, shape, and weight of each part you process is probably a no-brainer when you’re choosing a basket for holding your parts.
However, there are more characteristics to consider than just the basic physical dimensions and weight of the parts you’ll be processing.
For example, how hard is the surface of your part? How critical is the surface condition of the part to its value or functionality?
When picking a custom metal container such as a wire basket for ultrasonic cleaning, it’s important to know that the basket will provide the right level of protection for the parts it will hold.
If your parts are especially delicate and have a “no-scratches” requirement, then you might want to use a parts washing basket that has a coating of soft, shock-absorbent material or keeps parts from impacting one another during a washing cycle.
Tip #2: Consider the Process(es) You’ll Be Putting the Basket Through
As mentioned earlier, different parts may need to be put through different processes. Not only does your custom wire basket or sheet metal container have to keep parts safe through these processes, the containers themselves have to be able to survive repeated exposure to them as well.
For example, a basic parts washing process can involve many different chemicals with varying levels of corrosiveness. Using a parts washing basket made of materials susceptible to corrosion, such as plain iron or steel, can reduce the useful life of the basket since the chemicals will quickly eat away at the basket’s materials.
On the other hand, using corrosion-resistant stainless steel or applying a protective coating to the basket can prevent the chemical reaction that destroys the basket’s materials. This prolongs the useful life of the basket, keeping it intact and able to protect your critical parts throughout the cleaning process.
Aside from chemical corrosion involved in wash processes, there are factors such as temperature to consider. Using a basket made of materials with a low heat tolerance, such as most plastics, just doesn’t make sense if a heat treatment is part of your parts finishing process.
Even when a process doesn’t reach a given basket material’s melting point, a dramatic increase in temperature can affect a basket’s structural strength.
For example, although carbon steel has a melting point of about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit, it loses tensile strength as it nears the melting point. This can cause a basket to deform under the weight of a load it could otherwise hold without a problem.
Tip #3: Consider the Expected Useful Life of Different Baskets
Quick question: which is better, paying $150 for one basket that will last for 5+ years, or paying $50 for a basket that will need replacing every six months?
Since you would have to buy the cheaper basket 10 times to match the total useful life of the other basket, you would end up spending $500 over that period of time. That’s an effective cost increase of $350 per basket you need to meet minimum production requirements.
While the higher up-front investment might be harder to swallow, the long-term savings of purchasing a basket designed to last more than justify the initial expense.
Tip #4: Consult with an Experienced Mechanical Engineer
Sometimes, its best to get a little expert advice when choosing the perfect wire basket for your company’s needs. A mechanical engineer can examine the specifics of your process, such as:
- parts load;
- chemicals used;
- operational temperatures;
- environmental factors;
- frequency and severity of impacts; and
- level of protection needed for parts.
Taking factors such as these into account, an experienced mechanical engineer can assess what type of materials and specialized coatings would work best for your needs. Also, they can suggest specific modifications for a basket design such as the addition of a hinged lid or dividers to help keep parts in place.
These are just a few tips for how to choose the right basket for your needs.
Marlin Steel’s team of mechanical engineers has years of experience in helping clients craft the perfect steel wire baskets to meet their needs. So, for help in choosing the right basket for the job, contact Marlin Steel today!