Recently, we did a post about when wire mesh baskets would be best for your needs. Today, we’ll be tackling the question of when sheet metal fabrications would be the best for your basket design.To begin, let’s take a quick look at some of the characteristics of sheet metal fabrications that separate them from baskets made of wire mesh:
#1: Structural Integrity
Unlike wire mesh, which is composed of many small individual wires, a sheet metal basket is made of large plates of solid material (less any holes that may have been cut into it). Because of this, when weight is applied to a sheet metal basket, the stress from that load tends to be distributed more evenly on the sides of the basket.
What does this mean for stainless steel baskets that are made out of sheet metal? An overall higher structural integrity than wire mesh baskets.
This makes sheet metal baskets ideal for parts and materials handling uses on heavy loads.
#2: Solid Enclosures
With a plate of sheet metal, the final basket design can be made very solid, with few or even no holes in the metal plate. This makes it so that parts and materials cannot fall out of the basket, a useful feature when carrying materials from one end of the factory floor to the other.
While sheet metal can have holes cut into it using a cutting laser or CNC metal punch machine, these holes tend to be spaced much further apart than they would be in a piece of wire mesh. Also, where wire mesh has a rounded surface that prevents fluids and runoff from settling on the mesh, the spaces between cut holes on a piece of sheet metal are flat, allowing debris and liquids to settle more easily.
#3: Custom-Cut Holes
Speaking of using cutting machines, one of the identifying characteristics of perforated sheet metal is, well, the perforations. While the spacing of these holes is rarely as tight as what can be achieved with fine steel wire mesh, there is more room for customizing the pattern and size of individual holes when punching them into a sheet metal plate.
For example, instead of cutting just 1/4” diameter holes, you could cut large, oval-shaped holes into the top of a sheet metal basket at opposite ends. These larger holes could serve as handholds for manually carrying a basket from one area to the next. The solidity of the sheet metal makes creating such handholds easy, while the use of a laser cutter largely eliminates the occurrence of sharps and burrs along the edge of the handhold (which can be rubberized for increased safety and ease of grip).
So, when is a Perforated Sheet Metal Basket Best?
Overall, given the increased structural integrity that sheet metal has over fine wire mesh baskets, and the ability to make baskets with no holes for objects/materials to fall through or to integrate holes for handholds into the sides of the basket easily, it’s easy to say that sheet metal baskets are best for heavy-duty materials handling applications.
The solidness of these baskets make them highly durable and resistant to the effects of stress from heavy loads. Also, by limiting open space, you can easily protect the contents of a sheet metal container from being impacted by objects outside of the container. However, they are less ideal for ultrasonic cleaning processes, vapor degreasing, and other processes where allowing runoff to drain away cleanly is important.
In short, a perforated sheet metal basket is best when your primary concern is holding a heavy load of parts or materials so that it can be carried from point A to point B quickly and easily.
Creating a Perfect Perforated Sheet Metal Basket
When designing any parts washing or materials handling basket, it is important to get the design just right. This means using the right materials, coatings, and type of custom metal forms for the job. In many cases, this can mean using a combination of both perforated sheet metal and wire mesh to create the optimal custom basket design.
For example, say that a perforated sheet metal basket is being used to carry large, heavy, no-scratch parts. In such a case, the basket should be formed to perfectly nest the parts in question, but that can be difficult with sheet metal. However, by creating a separate wire form to cradle the part while it is being carried inside of the sheet metal container, the part can be held securely in place with ease.
In fact, sheet metal is often incorporated into wire mesh basket designs to improve the stability and load capacity of those basket designs, while retaining the best advantages of wire mesh (usefulness for ultrasonic cleaning processes, ease of drainage for runoff, etc.).
To learn more about how Marlin Steel can make the perfect materials handling basket for your needs, contact us today. The best way to know what your custom metal basket needs are is to talk over your processes with an experienced, degreed mechanical engineer.