Designing Custom Steel Baskets for Delicate Parts

January 27, 2015 | Custom Wire Baskets

Every basket design job is unique. Even when building baskets that are based on an existing design, there are usually improvements that can be easily made or other adjustments required by a change in the process for which the old baskets were used in.

Designing-Custom-Steel-Baskets-for-Delicate-PartsNot too long ago, Marlin Steel was contacted by a major manufacturer of firearms to supply custom parts washing baskets for a series of long arms.

Features of the Basket

In many basket designs, the basket is built to hold a large number of identical pieces. However, this basket was designed to hold three different parts for the barrel of a long arm. Each of these pieces were designed to undergo the same processes, so creating a custom basket that could hold all three was the easiest way to make sure that final assembly could be completed quickly without the risk of losing a part.

On top of being designed to hold three different parts, the baskets were designed to nest one on top of the other while fully loaded. This would allow the baskets to take up less space when the parts to be washed were finished with the wash process and awaiting the start of the next process.

For this particular basket, a combination of both steel wire and sheet metal was used. The outer frame was made using steel wire that was 0.25” thick. The interior components that would actually nest the gun parts was made from custom-cut sheet metal plates. Each plate was cut so that the grooves would neatly fit the firearm parts, and bent at precise 90 degree angles near the bottom to increase the surface area of the contact between the sheet metal and the wire frame, enhancing stability of the interior parts of the basket.

The reason for using quarter-inch thick wires for the frame was to ensure that the basket would be sturdy enough to take up to 30 lbs. of weight, the heaviest load of long arm parts that the client indicated would be used.

Two large handles on the ends of the basket are used to not only allow for ease of manual handling, but to provide a simple guide for slotting the baskets when stacking them.

What makes this basket design different from many others, however, is the choice of materials and coating. Most parts washing baskets are made of a grade of stainless steel so that the basket will not rust from exposure to the chemicals used in whatever cleaning process the customer uses for their parts. Instead this basket design incorporated plain steel as the material for the frame.

Plain steel, while possessed of a high tensile strength, is not particularly resistant to corrosion from contact with water and chemicals. To supplement the plain steel skeleton of the basket, a 0.02” thick coating of PVC was applied to the basket. The PVC coat not only protects the basket from the corrosive effects of repeated exposure to chemical-heavy solutions, it also serves to protect the parts being washed from damaged that could occur as a result of contact with the basket’s unyielding steel frame. This helps to prevent scratches that would otherwise necessitate reworks of the whole basket.

Ensuring a High-Quality Basket Design

With any basket design project, there is a need to be absolutely certain that there are no fatal flaws in the design. This is especially true of coated baskets, where the coating in question has to stand up to daily use without becoming compromised, especially when the material underneath is not highly corrosion resistant.

To ensure that the basket design could take the punishment of holding 30 lbs. of parts through a 10 minute long washing process 10-15 times a day, five days a week, the basket’s design was run through simulations using Autodesk software. With this software, a basket design can be subjected to thousands of operations in a virtual environment before the basket is ever manufactured, saving time and money on design iterations that would not work.

After passing the virtual testing, the wire and sheet metal for the basket was finally put through the assembly process using automated wire and steel sheet metal bending, cutting and welding robots. Once assembled, the baskets were put through a separate coating process and shipped to the client.

With domestic U.S. shipping, the client didn’t have to wait for an available cargo container on a foreign ship or customs delays, reducing the shipping times from months to a week or two from the time that work on the design initially began.

The end result? A precision-engineered basket that could hold delicate firearm assemblies through their wash process with ease delivered in an incredibly fast time frame.

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