WARNING: Why Your Wire Products are Getting Damaged

In Custom Wire Baskets

Marlin Steel on March 18, 2015

It happens all the time: a company orders a custom wire basket for a specific application from an overseas commodity basket manufacturer. The basket order was cheap, cost-effective, and the delay in the order was acceptable initially, but now there’s a problem.

As it turns out, the basket can only survive one or two runs through the process they were meant for before they become twisted into uselessness, rust, or break. Once damaged and deformed, the baskets go from protecting parts through a tough finishing cycle to ruining the very products they were meant to protect.

Why is it that these commodity wire products are getting damaged so easily? How can these baskets be improved to avoid such damage in the future?

To answer these questions, here are the top few reasons why a wire product such as a basket or an s-hook might get damaged:

Reason #1: Parts Not Built to the Right Specification

Here's a rendering Marlin Steel completes before making your custom wire basketSometimes, a cheap wire product is so cost-effective because it was cheaply made. Cutting corners on things such as structural supports may make for a reduced price, but it can leave the wire form too weak to take the load that you’ll be using it for.

Imagine trying to load 25 lbs. of parts into a wire mesh basket with only a few thin wires for support, similar to the ones in a kitchen colander, but with the wires woven with twice as much open space. Such a basket might last for one or two loads, then be so bent out of shape as to be useless afterwards, with bulges in the form at each pressure point where the weight of held objects rested.

Cutting costs by removing thicker supporting wires might have save a little money on the order, but without the support, the basket just isn’t going to be up to carrying such a load. It’s important that a design does more than just barely meet the demands of your use for the wire form, but exceeds these minimum values so that the useful life of the wire product is maximized. Custom wire baskets made for your exact specs will save you money in the end.

Reason #2: Poorly Formed Wire Products

Alternatively, parts might simply not have been formed correctly for your process.

For example, say that your wire products were ordered from a manufacturer who relies on cheap manual labor to get the job done. These laborers work day in and out, shaping metal by hand. Using manual labor to bend steel to a precise and consistent angle is an impossible task.

Have you ever bent steel by hand? It’s tough, physically demanding work, and it only gets harder as the day goes on and your back muscles get increasingly sore from doing the same heavy wire bends over and over. People get tired, arms get weak, and the temptation to get a little slack on consistency control becomes stronger as the day goes on. This doesn’t even take into account the danger of physical injuries that might limit work capacity (lost fingers and eyes, repetitive motion stress disorder, etc.).

The issue of poor construction for a wire form can be easily fixed using advanced factory automation tools. Unlike humans, robotic wire bending machines don’t get tired and stressed out after several hours of work. These machines are physically strong enough to bend wires quickly, and consistent enough to meet exacting tolerances whether they’re making one wire form or 10,000 wire forms.

Reason #3: The Wrong Material was Used for the Job

Here’s one of the most common causes of damage to a wire product that we hear about from customers. Not all steel alloys are created equally. Some alloys are specifically optimized to handle certain kinds of stresses, making them better for applications that expose your wire product to those stresses.

For example, say that your wire product is being used in a process where it will be exposed to heavy corrosives. If your wire product is made of plain steel, it will begin to decay very quickly. Plain steel, while possessed of a high tensile strength, has poor chemical corrosion resistance.

When unprotected plain steel is exposed to heavy chemicals or immersed in fluid, the surface of the metal will react, causing pitting and corrosion. This can cause the metal to wear thin and lose its strength, increasing the likelihood of a break, or even warp the metal so that the wire form no longer fits your parts or parts washing machine properly. Deformed baskets pose a damage risk to your sensitive products and possibly even the equipment you use for your parts finishing processes.

The fix here is easy: wire product makers need to know what forces are involved in your process, including temperatures, chemicals, and other stresses so that they can recommend to you the best materials for the job.

Reason #4: Lack of a Proper Coating

Provide extra protection to your baskets with a custom coatingSometimes, it’s okay to use a material for a wire product that isn’t up to withstanding the heat or chemicals it will be exposed to on its own… if said wire product is given a coating of a material that can take the chemical exposure and protect the wire from direct exposure. In many cases, using a material with a high tensile strength and hardness and coating it with another material can give you a wire form that has the best characteristics of both materials.

For example, you could add a PVC coating to a steel basket to make it better for ultrasonic parts washing processes. Here, your wire form benefits from increased chemical resistance and softness to avoid scratching parts from the PVC, as well as high tensile strength to withstand a heavy load and avoid deformation from the steel of the wire form.

When the base material of the wire form is not enough, it’s important to make sure that there is a coating on it to supplement the base material so the wire form isn’t damaged by the process your company needs it for. However, specialized coatings are frequently skipped to cut costs, which ends up costing you more in the long run.

To get the best results and avoid damage to your wire products, it’s necessary to get a well-designed, optimized, and meticulously manufactured product from a reliable manufacturer with the tools and personnel to get the job done. See how you can better protect your products by downoading our free guide below.

Learn how to protect your products and budget by downloading our guide!

Author: Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel is a leading manufacturer of custom‐engineered products from steel wire and sheet metal. Its industrial material handling containers serve many industries including aerospace, defense, medical and automotive.

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