Making Ultrasonic Cleaning Baskets for Laser Components

October 18, 2018 | Custom Wire Baskets, Stainless Steel Baskets, Parts Washing

Array of Laser Components in a gridMarlin Steel is a proud exporter of American-made products. In fact, Marlin has exported stainless steel products from its Baltimore, Maryland factory to more than 35 different countries around the globe. Naturally, this means working with clients that use Imperial (inches/feet) measurements as well as ones that use Metric (millimeters/meters) measurements.

So, Marlin Steel has extensive experience in handling manufacturing jobs that call for either kind of measurement according to the client’s preference. In one recent request to make ultrasonic cleaning baskets for optical laser equipment components, the client needed to make sure the basket and its components were measured using the Metric system.

The Client’s Ultrasonic Cleaning Basket Requirements

Each part had to be held in a precise layout to help prevent damage during the ultrasonic cavitation process and subsequent drying process. The basket itself would be mounted inside another container that would then go into the ultrasonic parts cleaning machine. The container had internal dimensions of 244 mm (9.6”) wide, 242 mm (9.52”) deep, and 201 mm (7.91”) long.

The custom stainless steel baskets would need to hold up to 50 horizontally-loaded cylindrical parts of varying sizes at a time—the smallest being 1 x 3 mm (0.039” x 0.118”) and the largest being 4 x 8 mm (0.157” x 0.314”). Each part would be separated by a divider so as to prevent part-to-part contact that could result in damage.

Even with the dividers, there would be plenty of room for the basket to fit well over 50 of the largest parts at a time. Additionally, because the container the basket would go into was so deep, Marlin’s engineers considered the possibility of making the baskets somewhat short and stackable, so multiple baskets could be loaded into the ultrasonic parts cleaning machine at a time. This would help maximize the productivity of the client’s cleaning process to improve their manufacturing capacity.

However, it was important to keep in mind that the client’s carrier had a maximum weight tolerance of 15 kg (about 33 pounds), including the weight of the held basket or baskets. So, it was important to keep the baskets, and their total contents, as lightweight as possible.

Additionally, the client’s ultrasonic washing process involved several different chemicals—including acidic, neutral, and alkaline detergents. The wash times would be chosen based on the contamination level of the parts being cleaned. This made it so that the client’s washing process would require a custom stainless steel basket that could survive prolonged exposure to a variety of chemicals.

The subsequent drying process would involve temperatures ranging from 70˚C to 85˚C (158˚F to 185˚F) over the course of several hours. While hot, this is not too hot for most coating materials that could be applied to a custom ultrasonic cleaning basket.

Designing a Better Ultrasonic Cleaning Basket

Because of the ultra-delicate nature of the optical equipment components being processed, Marlin’s engineers considered applying a protective coating to the surface of the basket, such as Teflon® or nylon. These materials would help to absorb some of the impact that could occur when parts would touch the interior of the basket during the violent vibrations of the ultrasonic cavitation process. Also, their chemical resistance and temperature tolerances were well above what was needed for the client’s ultrasonic cleaning process.

To keep the basket lightweight, thinner stainless steel wires were used to construct the frame and walls of the basket, as well as the dividers separating each of the parts being processed. The chambers in the initial design were made slightly larger than the largest part they would hold to make adding and removing the cylinders easy. The benefit of making the wires out of steel was that even relatively thin wires would be more than strong enough to withstand the weight of the parts the basket would hold several times over.

However, considering the size difference between the largest and smallest parts, and the need for parts to remain in a specific layout, it was decided that two variants of the basket would be made—one for the smaller parts that were 1 x 3 mm and 2 x 5 mm, and another for the parts that were 4 x 6.5 mm and 4 x 8 mm. Otherwise, putting the small 1 x 3 mm parts in spaces sized for 4 x 8 mm parts could give them excessive wriggle room and allow them to change orientation during the wash process. A lid was then added to keep the parts from falling out during the wash process.

Once the initial design was completed for each of the basket variants, it was tested using finite element analysis (FEA) software to verify that it could withstand the ultrasonic cleaning process without issue. If any flaws were found that could impact the basket or its ability to safely process held parts, the design would be:

  1. Marked as a failure;
  2. The reasons for the failure recorded;
  3. Sent back to design for refinement; and
  4. Tested again to see if the refined design will work.

If the refined design doesn’t work, the whole process repeats until an acceptable design is completed. This is how Marlin Steel ensures the creation of the ideal custom ultrasonic cleaning basket for each client’s specific application.

When the time came to assemble the basket designs, Marlin’s investments in factory automation and employee skill development ensured that every last basket was able to meet incredibly tight parts tolerances—and that the assembly of the baskets was completed in short order.

Do you need a high-quality, made-in-America custom stainless steel basket for a precision manufacturing process? Contact the experts at Marlin Steel’s Baltimore-based factory. Whether you prefer Metric or Imperial measurements, we can make the perfect custom stainless steel wire form for your needs.

New Call-to-action