In some of the articles on this blog, there have been comparisons of plastic baskets to stainless steel baskets. Recently, a company using an alkaline degreasing process approached Marlin Steel with a request for some custom stainless steel baskets to replace their current plastic baskets.
While the plastic baskets were resistant to the chemicals the company was using, they were retaining and transferring chemicals and other contaminants to the carbon steel pipes they held. This was causing increased parts rejection rates for the client—who needed to reprocess the contaminated parts or wholly remanufacture them.
To prevent the retention and transmission of chemicals and other contaminants, the client needed an impermeable basket—one made of stainless steel rather than plastic. So, Marlin’s engineering team set to work designing a custom stainless steel basket to carry the client’s carbon steel pipes through their alkaline degreasing process.
Preventing Contamination and Rust During Alkaline Degreasing
One of the top priorities for this basket’s design was the prevention of contamination and rusting. The problem of transferring chemicals from the basket to the carbon steel pipes was easily solved by using an impermeable metal (stainless steel) for the body of the basket rather than a permeable plastic.
However, that steel still needed to be able to withstand prolonged exposure to the alkaline degreasing process without becoming rusted or pitted. Otherwise, it could transfer rust to the carbon steel pipes and/or break during use.
To prevent this, Marlin’s engineers need to make sure they used the right kind of stainless steel for the frame of the basket. In this case, 316 stainless steel would be considered overkill for the needs of this basket, so grade 304 stainless steel was used instead.
Using rounded steel wires with plenty of open space would help prevent leftover liquid from settling on the basket. This would prevent the transfer of alkaline solution into downstream manufacturing processes by letting the solution drain from the basket easily.
One of these processes involved ultrasonic parts cleaning, so the basket needed strong steel wires that were securely welded to keep the basket from shaking apart during the cavitation process.
Ensuring Conveyor Compatibility
During the parts finishing process, the basket and its contents would be carried along using a variety of methods, including bare-handed carrying, sliding down ramps, and rolling along a conveyor. To ensure that the custom stainless steel basket would be compatible with all of these modes of transport, Marlin’s engineers:
- Added handles to make carrying the basket by hand easy; and
- Used thick rounded wires to make the base of the basket frame.
The large, thick wires at the bottom of the basket would help it resist the impact of hitting the bottom of the slide and prevent the basket from getting caught in wheels or treads of a conveyor system. A finer wire mesh situated atop the bottom frame would keep the vertically-held carbon steel pipes from falling through the basket and touching the conveyor directly.
Keeping Vertically-Held Carbon Steel Pipes in Place
Throughout the entirety of the alkaline degreasing process, and all of the subsequent processes through which the custom stainless steel basket would be moved, the basket would have to hold 25 carbon steel pipes upright and in place. If the pipes were allowed to slip out of alignment, they’d be difficult to retrieve, and it could impact how well the degreasing process would work.
To keep each pipe securely in place, the basket had three tiers of wires welded to the frame to act as dividers throughout the basket. By placing restraints near the bottom, middle, and top of each pipe, the basket ensured that none of the pipes would be able to tilt over during processing.
This loose hold was ideal for the client’s needs, keeping each pipe easy to access while minimizing the risk of a pipe falling out of the basket.
Testing and Building a Better Degreasing Basket
Once the particulars of the initial design were finalized, the basket design was turned into a CAD file and put through a finite element analysis (FEA) program to verify that it could stand up to the client’s alkaline degreasing process—as well as the other manufacturing processes the basket would be exposed to.
If the material of the basket would prove susceptible to pitting from exposure to alkaline degreasing solutions, or the basket would break under the ultrasonic vibrations of the rinsing process, it would be sent back to the design team for refinement. Only after the basket could pass the FEA simulation would the manufacturing team start committing steel wire to the manufacturing robots in Marlin’s Baltimore, Maryland factory.
The manufacturing automation that Marlin employed in its basket building process helped to ensure that every last basket made was able to meet exacting tolerances and that every last weld was completed to perfection. The accuracy and consistency of Marlin’s MFDC welding machine was particularly helpful for ensuring that each basket could meet the exacting parts tolerances the client required—as its high weld speed minimized distortions and the automated nature of the process made it so that every weld was completed to perfection.
Once manufacturing began, Marlin’s automated manufacturing equipment was able to work tirelessly to complete the baskets. Combined with the rapid FEA testing, this automated process helped to ensure a lightning-fast turnaround time for the client’s custom stainless steel basket order. In less time than it usually takes for a foreign-made basket to clear customs and make the long overseas journey on a shipping vessel, Marlin was able to take the basket design from concept to completion and ship those baskets out for delivery to the client. And, because Marlin’s factory is in America, there was no delay for customs or overseas shipping to the American manufacturing client.
If you need a custom stainless steel basket engineered for a specific application or part ASAP, contact the masters of delivering “Quality, Engineered Quick®” at Marlin Steel today!