Engineering Parts Washing Baskets for a Blue Wave Ultrasonics System

February 27, 2017 | Custom Wire Baskets, Parts Washing

Marlin Steel Ultrasonic Cleaning Basket 02035003-38Different manufacturers have all kinds of different needs for their production lines. From caustic cleaning solutions, to heavy ultrasonic vibrations, to temperature extremes, the tools and techniques required to make a part can vary wildly from one manufacturing process to the next.

This can make it a bit tricky to find the perfect parts washing basket. For example, one ultrasonic cleaning machine might use a cleaning solution consisting mostly of room temperature water, while another might use a more caustic chemical at higher temperatures. One process might use mechanical arms or conveyors, while another might rely on old-fashioned manual handling to move baskets between stages. Some parts might have ultra-delicate no-scratch surfaces, while others might be more rugged.

Taking these different factors into account is a must when engineering a parts washing basket for any ultrasonic parts washing system—such was the case when a manufacturer recently contacted Marlin to make a custom basket for a Blue Wave Ultrasonics system used to clean delicate copper parts.

Getting the Right Information

Before work could begin on the design of the wire basket, Marlin’s engineers needed to know more about the machine and the process the ultrasonic cleaning basket would be put through. So, Marlin sent a custom basket questionnaire to the other team to collect some specific information.

Some of the questions that the client answered included:

  • Do You Prefer English/Imperial or Metric? Important for making sure that part/basket dimensions are appropriately notated and measured.
  • What Are the Dimensions of the Ultrasonic Cleaning System’s Cavity? Knowing the length, width, and depth of the ultrasonic cleaning tank is kind of important when making a custom wire basket to fit inside of it.
  • What Features Should the Basket Have? Some manufacturers need specific features on a basket such as handles, lids, dividers, or stacking/nesting capability for a variety of reasons. By noting which features are the most important, Marlin’s engineers can make sure they’re included.
  • How Will the Basket Be Handled? If a basket is going to be moved using bare hands, the requirements for that design are going to be a bit different than if the basket were to be moved via hoist or conveyor belt. Knowing how a basket will be handled is critical for making efficient and effective designs.
  • What Chemicals & Temperatures Will the Basket Be Exposed to, and for How Long? The types of chemicals that an ultrasonic parts cleaning basket will be exposed to, the temperatures involved in the process, and how long it will be subjected to the process all factor into the material choice for the basket. It’s often better to use a high-quality metal alloy that costs a bit more than it is to get something that falls apart after a single week’s worth of use.

All told, the questionnaire covered more than 40 separate questions. This might sound like a lot, but it’s worth it to get a viable ultrasonic parts washing basket that will protect delicate parts for years to come.

Building a Better Wire Basket

In this particular application, the parts washing baskets would be exposed to a water-diluted ultrasonic cleaning solution with a pH value around 10 (making it a very strong alkaline). The temperature of this solution would vary between 98°F and 148°F (36.6°C and 64.4°C), for about 5-10 minutes for each cleaning cycle.

To survive this chemical concentration and temperature for this amount of time, grade 304 stainless steel was deemed sufficient for the task. However, this alloy was not to be used by itself—to keep the copper parts from getting scratched, a specialized coating would be applied to the basket.

This soft coating would also have to take the punishment of the ultrasonic washing process. Ultimately, the decision came down to nylon or Halar®, since both materials were soft enough to prevent scratching. Halar® was deemed the better choice because it held the edge in resistance to chemical corrosion—even though Halar® costs more than nylon.

Once the dimensions of the basket, open space between wires, and other specific design features were set, the engineering team created a CAD file detailing the basket’s specs and ran it through the Autodesk physics simulation software to test it virtually.

This test would reveal any major flaws which could cause the basket to fail under normal use conditions. Any such flaws were corrected before the design was moved to production—saving precious time, money, and material on bad basket prototypes.

The end result was a durable ultrasonic parts cleaning basket that could take the rigors of the cleaning process while protecting the delicate copper parts held within. Need a durable custom wire basket for your own production process, and fast? Contact Marlin Steel and get a quote ASAP!

Marlin Steel Ultrasonic Cleaning Baskets FAQ Guide