When it comes to washing lots of small, delicate parts, using a lidded wire mesh basket that has been partitioned into many smaller sections using dividers is a great way to ensure that you can wash a large quantity of parts at once without the risk of them colliding with one another and becoming damaged.
Recently, Marlin Steel’s engineers were tasked to create a basket with dividers for washing up to 24 parts at a time. For this particular application, there were several different sets of parts that the client would be using the basket to wash. The smallest parts to be washed measured 2 3/4” diameter and were half an inch tall, while the largest parts were 4 5/8” in diameter and 1 1/4” tall.
Because of the differences in the size and shape of the parts, using custom-shaped wire forms for any one specific part was out of the question. So, we went with a more open, universally-applicable design that kept parts separate through the use of dividers. A hinged lid would close over the basket’s divided compartments to ensure that no parts could fall out of the basket during the wash cycle, even if the basket was rotated.
With this design, the customer was able to use one type of basket for several different sets of parts being put through this wash process, and the baskets may still be useful for future product lines.
Designing for a Specific Use
Of course, it takes more than just knowing the dimensions of the part to design a basket that will be suitable for a given wash process. It is also important to know the details of the wash process itself, including:
- The machine(s) that the basket will be passed through. Details such as the dimensions of the machine’s interior are critical to know, as well as any special mounting pieces that the machine may use.
- The temperatures and chemicals the baskets will be exposed to, and for how long. The choice of metals to be used in the basket will depend largely on what the basket will be exposed to during the wash process. Without this info, building a suitable basket for your needs is much more difficult.
- How the basket is to be handled between wash processes. When baskets are meant to be carried by hand, it is important to design the basket in such a way as to make manual movement easy. When baskets are being moved via conveyor belts or rollers, it is important that the base is made so that it doesn’t get stuck on said conveyors or rollers easily.
It is for this reason that when a customer asks for our engineers to design a basket, we start by asking questions not only about the parts to be washed, but the wash process itself and features that the customer would want in their basket design.
For example, in this particular basket’s design, the client planned on moving their parts from one wash process to another by hand, with employees wearing thick gloves to protect themselves from the heat and chemicals.
The integration of handles added to the ease with which this particular basket design could be handled in between wash processes. The handles were also designed so that a gloved hand could fit easily in the basket.
Engineering for Durability
Any given load of parts to be held in these baskets could weigh up to 25 lbs., depending on the size and weight of the individual parts, so the frame of the basket had to be tough enough to hold that much weight without experiencing any deformation of the frame.
On top of the weight tolerances, the wire basket would be exposed to strong corrosive substances throughout the wash process, so it needed to be made out of a corrosion-resistant material to ensure the longest useful life possible.
To tackle the corrosion resistance issue, the basket was constructed from grade 316 stainless steel, a material that is very resistant to corrosives such as salt water, acetic acid, chlorides, and other solvents. In order to make sure that the frame of the basket would be up to the task of holding 25 lbs. of material through the customer’s wash process, Marlin Steel’s engineers ran simulations of the basket’s ability to handle the stress using computer models and AutoDESK software.
Through the use of AutoDESK software models, Marlin’s engineers were able to identify potential risks of fault or failure in the basket and make adjustments to the design as needed; even before the basket was actually constructed. During these simulations, a basket is rated as a failure if it would experience deformation of more than the width of a human hair.
Also, in the AutoDESK simulation, parts are typically tested for stresses that are beyond what the basket will actually be put through, just to be sure that the final product will be more than tough enough to withstand repeated use.
Learn more about Marlin Steel’s baskets with dividers and baskets with lids, or get help with acquiring your own parts washing baskets today!