For the manufacture of equipment and tools for the medical industry, several things are absolutely vital:
- Sanitation; and
Surgical equipment needs to have an especially sharp edge to make smooth incisions during medical procedures—this requires precise manufacturing techniques and tools. Every piece of equipment also needs to be as sanitary and sterile as possible to prevent infections that put the patient’s life at risk. Finally, every manufacturing process needs to be able to consistently produce every tool to maintain strong quality and safety.
This is why when one medical equipment manufacturer needed a new wire mesh basket with dividers for their medical parts sanitation process, they turned to Marlin Steel for the new basket design.
Starting with the Sanitation Process
To create the best medical sterilization basket possible for the client, Marlin’s engineering team first needed to gather some information about the client’s sanitation process—what chemicals would the process use, and at what concentrations and temperatures. Without this information, it would be easy to select the wrong alloy of stainless steel for the basket, which could result in it getting damaged or corroded by a specific chemical used in the sanitation process.
Also, Marlin’s engineering team needed to know what some of the specific requirements were for each part—such as whether or not the parts had no-scratch requirements (many do in the medical industry), what the dimensions of each part would be, how heavy each part would be, and how many parts the basket would need to hold at once.
To collect this information, Marlin’s engineering team sent the client a custom basket questionnaire. In the questionnaire, the client was asked about part dimensions, what kind of sanitation processes would be used, process duration, operating temperatures, chemicals used, and their preferences for the basket’s finish.
Building Better Stainless Steel Parts Washing Baskets
From the client’s responses to the custom basket questionnaire, the engineer designing the baskets was able to determine the appropriate design and materials for the custom parts washing basket.
In this case, grade 304 stainless steel was determined to be more than sufficient for withstanding the client’s manufacturing process, temperatures, and chemicals. This alloy could then be electropolished to further enhance the sanitary qualities of the basket by creating a microscopically smooth surface that bacteria and dirt cannot cling to.
To help keep parts separated during the wash process while allowing the basket to accommodate a variety of parts, dividers were added to the stainless steel basket to create 35 separate openings where parts could be placed. These dividers were permanently welded to the frame of the basket to ensure extra stability during the wash cycle.
To make sure that runoff from the client’s cleaning process could drain away quickly and completely, the bottom of the basket was made using a wire mesh rather than sheet metal. The mesh created plenty of open space in the basket for fluids and debris from the sanitation process to drain through. This would keep debris from re-depositing on the sterile medical equipment being processed.
Since the basket would be handled manually between sanitation processes, a pair of large handles were added to the basket to make it easy to carry with gloved hands.
The frame itself was made using laser-cut sheet metal. This helped to maximize the strength of the basket and to simplify final assembly.
Each aspect of the design was tested using finite element analysis (FEA) software to simulate the effects of years of daily use in mere minutes. The FEA simulations would break down the design into thousands of finite parts and measure the effects of exposure to specific weight displacements, temperatures, chemicals, and other physical forces to see if it would cause corrosion or deformation. The design would be reworked if there were any deficiencies spotted in the basket from the test.
To ensure that each stainless steel medical basket would hold to incredibly tight parts tolerances, Marlin’s manufacturing team used several pieces of factory automation to assemble the baskets. For example, a CNC controlled laser cutter was used to cut the sheet metal for the frame. Meanwhile, wire-bending robots curled a wave pattern into the steel wires for the bottom of the basket, and an MFDC welding machine was used to fuse the wires to the frame. The welder’s insanely fast weld speeds allowed the wires to be welded with a minimum of spatter—creating clean welds that minimized burrs and sharps.
In all, Marlin’s design and manufacturing teams were able to take the basket from a concept to a finished product in a matter of weeks, delivering a top-quality parts washing basket to the client in time to help them meet their manufacturing goals for the quarter.
If you need a quality custom steel basket quick, contact Marlin Steel today and request a custom basket quote!