How to Optimize Ultrasonic Cleaning for Suspension Components

September 22, 2016 | Custom Wire Baskets

360 Degree View of Custom Stainless Steel Basket with Dividers Used for Ultrasonic CleaningThere are a lot of ways to create efficiency in a parts washing process. Key strategies include minimizing parts rejection rates to eliminate waste, to speeding up drying times, to maximizing parts capacity.

For each of these goals, the design of the steel basket plays a key role.

In a recent order, a customer needed a high-capacity ultrasonic parts cleaning basket that could hold no less than 200 rubber bushings for car suspension systems at a time. Additionally, each bushing had to be completely isolated and consistently kept in place throughout the washing process for handling by a pick and place robot.

As a critical component of vehicular suspension systems, these bushings needed to be both defect and contaminant-free once the ultrasonic cleaning process ended. This would be a key challenge in the design process of this basket.

The Initial Design Concept

Suspension_Stabilizer_Bushings.jpgFor this particular order, the customer didn’t have an existing basket design, but they did have a comprehensive design concept to get started.

In the initial design concept, the basket would have 4-5 layers of trays to hold 40-50 parts each. Space between the layers needed to be maximized so as to increase air flow in drying and to minimize interference with the ultrasonic waves during the wash process.

Because strong caustic chemicals would be involved, such as a powerful surfactant and a separate corrosive chemical, each basket would have to be made of corrosion-resistant grade 316 stainless steel or stronger material.

There were two types of bushing that would be in every load: a top bushing and a bottom bushing. The top bushings were 48mm wide, 40mm long, and 24 mm tall, while the bottom bushings were 48mm wide, 40mm long, and 22mm tall. Because of the dimensions of the ultrasonic wash tank, the maximum external dimensions of the basket were 430mm wide, 380mm long, and 350mm tall.

So, not counting spacing for internal dividing wires in each tray layer, there could be up to 8 parts in each row and 9 parts in each column, or 72 parts per tray—nearly double the 40 part per row minimum. However, to ensure efficient cleaning and ease of removal, there needed to be some free space in each compartment.

To create a semi-universal design, the larger dimension of 24 mm for the top bushing was assumed in the design of the trays for the basket and the spacing between layers. This way, individual trays could be freely removed and replaced with ease.

Customizing the Basket to the Process

customizing the design is a lot of work, but it often makes for a more efficient end product.Because the tops and the bottoms of the bushings would be processed separately after the ultrasonic wash cycle finished, creating a basket that had 4 layers of trays was considered optimal. This would allow for the even distribution of tops and bottoms for the bushings without having to split a tray between the two types of parts.

If an odd number of trays was used, the client would either have to split the middle tray’s load between half tops and half bottoms or alternate between washing tops and bottoms in each load. Either solution would complicate their process and create delays or risks of parts rejections.

By designing the basket with 4 layers of trays that could each hold 50 parts, Marlin’s engineers could maximize space open space between parts and basket layers while easily meeting the customer’s 200 parts per wash minimum.

Making the individual trays removable would provide the benefit of making it easier to quickly offload the parts for their individual processing cycles and final assembly. Adding handles to the top of the basket made it easier for workers to grasp and manually handle the basket as it moved from initial wash, to the rinse tank, to the drying tank, to the application of the final surface treatment of the parts before unloading them.

Because there was extra room for parts in each compartment, thicker wires could be used for the frame of the basket, the trays, and the dividers. This increased the tensile strength of the basket so that it could take the 25 lb. load when full, and better stand up to the vibrational stresses of an ultrasonic transducer.

Why Customization Matters

By altering the initial design concept of the basket to better fit the customer’s production process, Marlin’s engineers were able to ensure that the basket enabled greater productivity and throughput.

Additionally, by adjusting the design and materials used, it was possible to help ensure that the basket’s useful life would be maximized, helping the client reduce their total cost of ownership. Longer lasting baskets would mean fewer reorders in the future.

Finally, by customizing the basket’s design, the basket could better protect the delicate rubber bushings from damage risks, reducing parts rejection rates. This would help the customer make more parts per day, fill orders faster, and cut costs for remanufacturing damaged parts.

Having the right ultrasonic parts cleaning basket can make a huge difference in the productivity and throughput of your manufacturing process. But, it takes an experienced and skilled team of manufacturing engineers working with the right tools to make the perfect custom steel baskets for your process.

Learn how you can get baskets made by experienced experts working with top-of-the-line tools today!

Marlin Steel Ultrasonic parts washing case study