For many manufacturing businesses, floor space is a precious commodity. There needs to be enough room between machines for employees to safely pass—and each machine can take up a significant amount of space even when you aren’t considering the need for this "safety bubble" around it. When you add the floor space needed to store process-critical tools, such as the stainless steel baskets used to hold parts through the manufacturing process, space becomes even more limited.
One solution to the issue of how to minimize the space consumed by steel wire baskets is to make them stackable. Stacking custom stainless steel baskets makes it significantly easier to save space on the shop floor—but, the baskets need to be designed for it to prevent them from falling over or letting the parts they hold get damaged.
Recently, a manufacturer approached Marlin Steel with a need for a set of custom stainless steel baskets that could go directly from an ultrasonic wash process to an oven drying process, then be stacked for storage until ready to ship.
What the Client Needed for Their Custom Steel Baskets
The client would be washing a variety of different parts in their ultrasonic cleaning process, which used mild soap and deionized water to scrub surface contaminants from their products. After finishing the ultrasonic cleaning cycle, the parts would be immediately placed in an oven at around 239˚F (115˚C) for half an hour to dry.
Because there would be many different parts being washed in this process, the basket couldn’t use custom interior shapes to hold parts in specific layouts. Also, since the size of the parts could vary, adding dividers also not an option. To accommodate the wide variety of parts being washed, the interior of the basket was designed as a wide-open space—creating a universal ultrasonic parts washing basket.
The client’s parts did have a tolerance for light surface scratching from contact with the basket the ultrasonic cleaning process, so the basket would not need to be coated.
To help the custom stainless steel basket for ultrasonic parts cleaning withstand the mild soap and water solution used in the client’s parts washing process, the basket would be made of grade 304 stainless steel. Grade 304 stainless steel was determined to be resistant to the chemical attack from the soap solution, and had a maximum operating temperature several times higher than the temperatures used in the client’s oven drying process.
The wires for the basket were made slightly thick and were securely welded to one another to help them resist the stresses of the ultrasonic cavitation process. Thinner wires that are welded less securely might break during the intense shaking caused by ultrasonic cleaning.
Also, using thicker wires, especially for the frame of the basket, helped to increase the total weight each basket could take. This was important because, when stacked, each basket would have to withstand the weight of the parts they hold as well as the weight of every other fully-loaded basket above it. The handles at either end of the basket would not only make them easy to lift and move by hand, but they also helped to serve as guides for the stacking of the baskets
Once the design was completed, it was tested using virtual physics simulation software to verify that it could withstand the stresses it would be subjected to in the ultrasonic cleaning process and subsequent oven dry process. If there were any deviations discovered, even ones as minor as a hair’s width of displacement in the frame, the design would be reworked and tested again.
Delivering Quality, Engineered Quick®
After finalizing the design, Marlin’s engineering team passed it on to the manufacturing team, who would use the specifications to program Marlin’s factory automation equipment and select the appropriate tooling for the job. Once set up, these manufacturing robots were able to rapidly assemble the components for each basket—working for hours on end without getting tired or injured.
Because these machines wouldn’t get tired, and because they had precise computer controls managing the timing and speed of every operation from wire bending to welding, the baskets made were all consistent in their size and shape—a must for any stacking basket.
All told, Marlin Steel was able to go from an initial design request to shipping out a finished custom steel wire basket for ultrasonic cleaning in less than two weeks. And, thanks to being made in the USA, these baskets could be shipped straight to the American client without the need to sit and wait for customs—helping them meet their own deadlines for production and avoiding costly delays.
If you need a custom wire basket for your own manufacturing process, reach out to the team here at Marlin Steel’s Baltimore, Maryland factory to get a custom basket quote today! Marlin’s design engineers have years of experience and extensive training in solving different manufacturing challenges that help to ensure you get the perfect custom metal form to fit your needs.