For many of Marlin Steel’s customers, getting a new piece of factory equipment is an exciting event. Just picture it: the new machine hits your factory floor, your team hooks it up and begins integrating it into the parts washing/finishing process, and you run that first load of parts through the machine using the basket(s) it came with, the ones the manufacturer recommended… only to find out your parts don’t fit right, or the mesh is too loose, causing parts to fall right out.
Recently, one of Marlin Steel’s customers was faced with this very problem. They had acquired a new ultrasonic parts washing machine to aid in the finishing of their most delicate parts. At first, things seemed fine as they cleaned larger parts.
However, as the customer moved to washing smaller parts, a flaw became readily apparent. As it turns out, the large open spaces between the individual wires of the basket were too much for the customer’s 0.22” diameter parts. As soon as the ultrasonic cavitation process began, smaller parts would float or fall right out of the stock basket, becoming stray objects inside the machine.
Loose-floating objects in an ultrasonic cleaning machine are at a much higher risk of getting damaged, and may even cause damage to the machine itself. Needless to say, this was a situation that the customer wanted resolved as quickly as possible.
Replacing the Stock Basket with a Custom Wire Mesh Basket
As the stock basket was not suited to the customer’s needs, the best solution was to replace the baskets that came with the machine with custom wire mesh baskets that had much smaller gaps between individual wires.
Soon after coming to the decision to replace the stock baskets that came with their ultrasonic cleaning system, the customer contacted Marlin Steel for a new basket design. To get started, the customer filled out one of our Custom Basket Questionnaires so that Marlin’s engineers could have a clear idea of what the design specifications needed to be for this custom basket design.
Through the questionnaire, Marlin’s engineers were able to find out:
The purpose of the basket (clean parts).
Dimensions of the cleaning machine’s interior (20” x 12” x 6”).
The chemicals that the basket would be exposed to (Isopropyl Alcohol mixtures).
Temperatures that the basket would be exposed to (34.5 °C – 35.5 °C).
Other forces the basket should be designed to endure (ultrasonic vibration, weight of held parts, etc.).
Problems with the existing design (parts floating/falling out of the basket).
Duration of the wash process (20 minutes).
Number of parts to be washed simultaneously (varies based on part size).
Whether or not the basket should hold parts exactly in place or use a universal design.
How the basket is to be handled (manually, by machine, or both).
These are just a few of the things that the questionnaire helps the design engineer learn about the customer’s needs. With this information, the design engineer has the information they need to start work on replacing the stock basket with something more in line with the customer’s needs.
For example, knowing what forces the basket will be exposed to and for how long helps engineers decide how thick the wires for the basket will need to be to prevent failure, as well as find out what grade of steel to use for the wires. The more abuse the basket has to take, the sturdier the wires need to be.
Knowing the dimensions of the parts themselves helps the engineer to choose an appropriate spacing for the wire mesh so that there’s enough open space to allow the IPA solution to drain quickly and completely, while preventing the small 0.22” parts from falling through the mesh. In the end, the open space was set to be 0.187” in between each wire. This would be too small to allow parts to pass through, but large enough for easy draining of the alcohol solution.
One other problem with the original basket design was that the lid was too loose. It would open during the intense vibration of the cavitation process and allow even large parts to float freely. To address this, rather than use a detachable lid, the lid for the new design was made with a hinged lid. The hinges were welded at opposite directions once installed, so the lid could not be removed. Two latches attached to solid plates would hold the basket closed throughout the 20 minute-long wash process.
To facilitate ease of carrying/lifting from the wash cavity, two large, solid handles were welded to the basket’s frame. The handles needed to be solid to avoid damage during the intense vibration of the wash process, and large enough to accommodate a gloved hand with ease.
The end result for the customer was a new basket that could take the stresses of the ultrasonic cleaning process without allowing parts to fall out or float free, keeping delicate parts safe from harm during the cavitation cycle.
To learn more about how Marlin Steel’s engineers build a better basket for your ultrasonic parts washing needs, contact us today!