In a lot of the custom wire basket design requests that Marlin Steel receives from clients, stacking is a commonly-requested feature. Stacking baskets help to save space when they’re not in use or when the contents are being stored in between production phases.
However, in one recent custom wire basket request for an ultrasonic parts washing process, the client’s request had an interesting twist: the baskets needed to stack while inside of the ultrasonic parts washing machine.
This way, the client could have two layers of parts being washed at once. However, this would also complicate the ultrasonic cleaning process—two layers of baskets means more material between at least one of the layers and the ultrasonic transducer, which impacts the effectiveness the cleaning cycle.
Minimizing Interference with Two Layers of Baskets
The major challenge here was minimizing the interference from the two-layer setup for the parts being washed in the ultrasonic cleaning machine. Having that second layer of basket and parts would reduce the efficiency of the cleaning process. So, the basket’s design needed to be as minimal as possible.
At the same time, the basket needed to be durable for hundreds of uses in a multi-step process that involved the use of both citric and phosphoric acids, as well as deionized water, one after the next. After the different wash steps were completed, the basket and its contents would be oven-dried to remove any remaining moisture before moving to the next phase of the manufacturing process.
The best way to minimize interference is to maximize open space while making the wires as thin as possible. However, this also reduces the tensile strength and durability of the wires. To compensate for this, the right materials needed to be used so as to maximize the basket’s resistance to the caustic effects of the citric and phosphoric acid baths.
For this purpose, grade 316 stainless steel was determined to be the best material to use for the stacking baskets. The high strength of this alloy combined with its incredible resistance to pitting corrosion and oxidation in acidic environments made it the ideal choice for making thin, durable wires for the basket.
Crafting Ultrasonic Cleaning Baskets to Meet Tight Tolerances
Another big challenge is that because the baskets had to stack while inside of another container, the parts tolerances for each basket were incredibly tight. To make sure the baskets had consistently micrometer-precise dimensions, Marlin’s production team used a variety of automated manufacturing machines to actually make them.
Wire bending and cutting robots were used to shape the individual wires, ensuring consistent wire lengths and precise bends. And, unlike manual laborers, these machines don’t get tired, bored, or suffer repetitive motion stress injuries from hours of bending work. This allows for micrometer-precise parts tolerances on a mass manufacturing scale.
An MFDC (medium-frequency direct current) welder was used to join the fine wires of the baskets to their frames. The advantage here was that an MFDC welder has minimal spatter and metal deformation because of its millisecond-quick weld times. This helped to keep the shape of each basket consistent by preventing the miniscule deformations less efficient welds create. It also kept burrs and sharps to a minimum, making the basket gentler on held parts.
With multiple forms of robotic automation, Marlin Steel’s manufacturing team has the tools to manufacture incredible complex custom wire baskets for ultrasonic cleaning, or any other application, while meeting highly-demanding parts tolerances with ease.
Once the automated equipment is set up, it can be run for hours on end without needing to stop—allowing Marlin Steel to produce hundreds of basket components in short order.
Marlin’s adoption of factory automation is just one component of how we deliver “Quality, Engineered Quick®” to clients all over the world.
Need a custom ultrasonic cleaning basket or another wire form? Contact Marlin Steel today for a custom basket quote!