Expanded metal baskets combine some of the best aspects of steel wire mesh baskets (open space for air flow and drainage) with the superior tensile strength and rigidity of solid sheet metal. Additionally, expanded metal cuts down on the need for extra welding operations compared to using individual steel wires, making it faster and easier to complete sturdy baskets.
Overall, stainless steel expanded metal baskets are incredibly tough and versatile—especially when made of highly-resistant metal alloys such as grade 316 stainless steel. As a material, 316 SS is incredibly resistant to corrosion from exposure to chlorides and other corrosives.
What are some of the specific applications that grade 316 stainless steel expanded metal baskets can be used for? Here’s a list of some applications that other companies have used these incredibly tough and resilient baskets for:
Storage of Heavy Metal Parts
Several automotive parts manufacturers and companies in the aerospace industry have used stainless steel expanded metal baskets to hold their heaviest metal components as they were moved from one process to the next.
Why use grade 316 stainless steel for parts storage? In these cases, the baskets were doing more than just holding the parts—most steel alloys would have enough tensile strength for that. Instead, the baskets would often need to be able to withstand exposure to chloride-based solutions or salt-enriched air. Here, the superior chemical resistance of grade 316 stainless was needed to ensure the long-term viability of the basket.
Shot Peening Parts
Shot peening is the process of shooting parts with small particles of glass, metal, or ceramic to alter the part’s surface characteristics. Obviously, this kind of high-impact process is going to be incredibly stressful on the baskets holding the parts through the shot peening process.
Using expanded metal for the basket allows the particulates used in the shot peening process to reach the parts being modified, but gives the basket itself enough strength to survive repeated exposure to the process—unlike a steel wire basket, where a single wire might break from the impact.
Shot Blasting Parts
Shot blasting is a similar process to shot peening, but may use smaller particulates to not only change the surface properties of a part, but also to strip it clean of contaminants and/or to polish it. Here, grade 316 expanded metal baskets are useful because of their incredible durability, which makes them able to survive prolonged use in this high-stress application.
Degreasing Components and Brackets
Many vapor degreasing processes use incredibly caustic solutions that are heated to the boiling point to break up stubborn contaminants, such as machine oil/grease, and liquefy them so they can drain away from the part being degreased.
Grade 316 stainless steel can withstand exposure to the caustic solutions used in vapor degreasing and many other parts cleaning processes—making it the ideal material for this particular application.
Heavy-duty grade 316 stainless steel expanded metal baskets are incredibly durable compared to their wire mesh counterparts. When created with a nesting or stacking design in mind, this allows many fully-loaded expanded metal baskets to be stacked to save space on the factory floor.
Many companies use this ability to stack baskets to help organize their finished parts as they await delivery or to dry off between processes.
Fire Safes for Warehouses
Some users of expanded metal baskets have used them as a kind of fire safe to protect delicate parts or papers in case of a warehouse or factory fire. When designed for this purpose, the expanded metal baskets are usually built in layers, featuring an open outer frame to keep heavy debris from impacting the sealed containers held within.
With its high melting point and a layer of insulation between the expanded metal frame and the sealed container held within, these baskets can be surprisingly effective at protecting delicate items from the fury of a blaze and the incidental impacts that may occur.
These are just a few of the different ways that other companies have put their expanded metal baskets to use. If you need an incredibly sturdy, yet lightweight, basket that combines the best elements of steel wire and sheet metal designs, it might be worthwhile to consider an expanded metal basket!