Recently, our company was contacted to create a specialized wash basket to hold machined aluminum housings during the cleaning process. The expected daily output of this process? 10,000-20,000 parts per day.
During the washing process, the parts would be cleaned with a chemical detergent, then rinsed with a specialized corrosion inhibitor.
On top of that, not all of the parts being put through this process would be the same. There would be variances in size, shape, and weight. So, unlike many other custom wire forms, which would be designed to hold a specific part in place, and no others, these wire baskets would have to be designed in such a way as to accommodate several different kinds of parts, loaded in several different ways. Some parts would be loaded vertically, while others would lay horizontally in the basket.
Because of the sheer amount of parts to be washed per day, and the differences in those parts, the baskets for this job would have to be durable and have the ability to hold parts in more than one way. To solve this problem, it was decided to use a series of vertical rods to help keep parts in place.
When parts are placed vertically in the basket, the rods help keep them upright. When parts are laid in the basket horizontally, the rods can help to provide separation of the individual parts so that they do not bump into each other during the wash cycle and become scratched or damaged.
Choosing a Basket Material
For this particular basket design, finding a material that would be durable enough to withstand the high number of parts washing cycles that the client proposed each day was actually quite simple. Although each basket would have to go through a large number of wash cycles each day, the temperature of the wash process itself was relatively low (145 °F), and the detergent used was not a powerful corrosive. The wash process did not have an ultrasonic component, so that also reduced the amount of stress the basket frames would be put under.
Because of this, it was determined that the baskets could be made from Grade 304 Stainless Steel, as this grade of steel was more than tough enough to take the proposed wash process.
Building the Basket
The largest challenge in designing these baskets was not in choosing the right materials and coating, but in integrating the vertical rods into the design in an efficient manner, while still allowing the baskets to stack. Also, for this job, there needed to be a special plate for wash tags so the client could employ a bar code reader for each batch to assist in quality control.
The rods needed to be close enough together that they would hold a sizeable number of parts vertically, but spaced far enough apart to accommodate larger parts that were being placed horizontally. The spacing of these rods needed to be identical from one basket to the next as well to ensure consistency in the loading process.
To allow the baskets to stack while in use, the bottom corners were designed to rest on special wire shapes that were integrated into the raised handles of each basket. The stacking had to be done in this manner because there needed to be an extra few inches of clearance between the lower and upper baskets to allow larger parts to be held in the lower basket.
Thanks to the assistance of automated wire bending robots, we were able to make sure that every piece of wire in each basket was precisely placed. Also, we used automated welders to ensure that every intersection was done properly. This ensured that the wire shapes in each basket were free from defects that would impair their ability to stack or hold parts in place.
The end result was a basket that met the demands of accommodating a variety of parts through the client’s wash cycle, and a happy client.
Learn more about how Marlin Steel can provide you with “quality, engineered quick” today!