How Marlin Steel Creates Your Perfect Parts Cleaning Basket

Marlin Steel Parts Washing BasketsAs a company, Marlin Steel is famous for its material handling and washing baskets for sensitive parts. Back in the day, Marlin Steel was most well-known for the manufacture of commodity bagel baskets for bakeries to use in the display of their bagels. Much has changed in the intervening years, to say the least.

Now, thanks to heavy investments in advanced robotics and employee improvement, Marlin Steel has the equipment and the expertise needed to craft custom wire forms for innumerable applications.

Traditionally, the biggest challenge in building a parts washing basket is getting a complete grasp of the application for which the basket will be used. It is very important to ask the right questions before attempting to manufacture the basket. By asking the right questions, it is possible to minimize costs, number of design iterations and the time it takes to go from initial design bid to finished product.

Learning to ask the right questions is more than a matter of training, it is a matter of real-world experience and knowledge. Marlin Steel’s engineers have successfully designed countless wire forms for use with a large variety of products, including:

  • Air foils.
  • Pump housings.
  • Valves.
  • Nuts & bolts.
  • Automotive parts.
  • Dental implants.
  • Firearms.

The above are just a few examples of the types of parts that Marlin Steel engineers have designed baskets for over the years. Thanks to their years of experience in designing baskets for all sorts of uses, Marlin’s engineers know just what questions to ask before they start building a basket.

Design Considerations: the Frame

Once the engineer has a complete picture of what the basket will be used for and the types of chemicals and temperatures it will be exposed to, he or she will set to work designing the frame of the basket. While there are innumerable different factors that will affect the design of the basket, such as the dimensions of the object to be held and the nature of the parts washing process, there are a few things which are fairly constant in a well-designed basket.

For example, most Marlin Steel baskets use a diamond-shaped base to reinforce the bottom of the wire mesh basket. This diamond pattern not only helps the wire mesh retain its proper shape when fully loaded, it also helps to prevent the basket from becoming stuck on conveyor belt systems. A square shaped bottom can snag very easily on a flat, wide transitioning surface. The diamond shape minimizes the point of contact between the edge of the conveyor belt and the basket, greatly reducing the chances that it will be caught on the edge of the conveyor.

The specific grade of stainless steel used for the frame, and any coatings that will be applied to it, will be determined largely by the needs of the part and the cleaning process. In washing operations that employ water, alcohol or detergent-based cleaning solutions, grade 304 stainless steel is usually the best material. However, for corrosive chemical bath processes that would eat 304 stainless, grade 316 stainless steel is better. Without knowing the washing process before designing the basket, something as basic as choosing the right alloy for the basket is impossible.

The Lid

The design of the lid for the basket should receive the same consideration and care that the design of the basket’s frame receives. For many parts washing processes, the lid is what keeps the small, delicate parts being washed from becoming lost or even damaged in the parts washing machine.

When a basket is being designed with a lid, it is vital that the lid is sturdy enough to not open accidentally during the wash cycle, but can be opened without difficulty when not in use. Once again, knowing the specific details of the washing process and of the parts being washed is invaluable to creating the perfect lid. In some processes, a simple shoebox-type lid that wraps the edges will work fine, while other processes might require a more secure latch to prevent the lid from coming open while the basket is being rotated or submerged.

The Wire Mesh

A parts washing basket would be fairy useless if the cleaning solution couldn’t reach the part to be washed inside the basket. Because of this, the open area of the mesh (the space between the wires) is definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration.

The open area of a wire form basket can vary by quite a bit, anywhere from 20 to 80 percent of the total area of the mesh surface. At 20 percent open space, the openings between wires are usually narrower than the wires themselves. At 80 percent open space, the openings are very large, allowing for most cleaning solutions to flow freely through the mesh: however, the thinner wires won’t be as durable and long-lasting.

To achieve the optimum balance of durability and flow, Marlin Steel’s engineers aim for an open area of around 50 percent in their wire form designs. At 50 percent open area, the wires themselves are thick enough to withstand repeated wash cycles, while being open enough to allow most fluid and aerosol cleaning solutions to reach parts easily.

One important caveat for designing a wire mesh basket is that the frame, as well as any other additional parts such as latches and hinges, take up some of the open area on a basket. As a result, the open area of a wire mesh basket that was designed to be 50 percent might actually be 40 percent if you take these space-consuming structural elements into account.

By taking into account the dimensions of the part to be washed and the nature of the washing process, Marlin’s engineers can design the right basket for the job quickly and easily.

Custom Wire Baskets to Hold Sensitive Parts

Marlin Steel - Parts Holding BasketOne of Marlin Steel’s core products is our wire mesh baskets. Wire baskets were Marlin’s main product back when our current owner, Drew Greenblatt, first acquired the company years ago. However, the wire mesh baskets that we make nowadays are worlds away from the commodity bagel baskets that we were once known for.

Now, Marlin’s baskets are precision-manufactured specialty products. Where the old bagel baskets could have a margin of error up to an entire inch, the products we make for customers these days have microscopic margins of error: 1/4,000 of an inch or less. Thanks to our investment in modernized manufacturing equipment, we are able to fulfill what would have once been impossible orders quickly and efficiently.

Making Better Wire Baskets for our Clients

When a customer puts in an order for us to produce a custom basket for them, we make sure that we know:

  • The maximum dimensions of the basket.
  • What the basket is being used for.
  • What temperatures/chemicals the basket will be exposed to.
  • How much weight the basket will have to support.
  • The dimensions of any parts the basket will need to hold.

Knowing the purpose of the wire basket in addition to the chemicals and temperatures that it will be exposed allows our engineers to recommend the best combination of alloys and coatings to meet the demands of your specific process. Knowing the dimensions of the machine that the basket will be placed in, as well as the dimensions of the parts the basket will be holding, gives our engineers the ability to design a basket that will fit your machine like a glove.

Once we have the information we need for your wire or perforated sheet metal material handling basket, our engineers get to work. They create a design for your material handling basket using computer software, select an appropriate grade of stainless steel, choose a coating for the basket that will provide the best protection for your process, and put all of this information into a proposed design document for you to review.

In many cases, we can go from a basic proposal to full-scale production in about a week.

The Design Proposal

One of the most critical concerns when designing a custom-made wire mesh material handling basket is that the dimensions of the basket are just right. Too much space, and a part could rattle around excessively, creating a risk of damage to that part. Too little space, and the part will not fit in the first place. Naturally, the tolerance for extra space in a materials handling basket will differ based on the individual parts and washing processes involved.

Marlin Steel Wire FormThis is part of the reason why Marlin generates a design document for every project for our customers to review. Each proposed design document records not only the dimensions of the wire form and the materials and coatings used therein, but we also make notes about the final design to address potential concerns. For example, in our design doc for a parts washing basket for one of our clients, we noted the specific type of welding that would be used, and that weld spatter from that type of weld would not be a risk to their parts.

The design documents with our annotations show our customers exactly what they can expect when they receive their wire forms once they’re approved. Because our wire shaping and laser cutting processes are done using precise, automated manufacturing equipment, our customers can rest assured that they will receive consistent results once their custom wire forms are put into production. Every basket from the first unit off of the line to the 10,000th unit will be of uniform quality and error-free.

Take Advantage of Marlin’s Expertise Today

Our team of experienced manufacturing professionals is here to help you. Contact us today and discover how we can fulfill your parts handling needs.

Let Marlin Steel’s Expert Engineers Answer Your Questions

Over the years, the Marlin Steel team has evolved. Back in the ‘90s, when Drew Greenblatt first acquired the company, we were a simple commodity manufacturer of wire baskets. Today, we are a highly advanced manufacturer of products that require extreme precision.

Where we once dealt primarily with bagel shops who products could handle a margin of error that was over an inch, we now make parts and products for industries that require accuracy to 1/4000 of an inch or less. A large part of this transformation was in our investment into automation, to be sure. However, it is our investment in our employees that has truly helped Marlin Steel rise above the challenges posed by cheap foreign labor and the ever-changing manufacturing market.

Workers Turned Expert Engineers

When Drew Greenblatt made the decision to invest in automation in order to make Marlin Steel more competitive as a company, he knew that it would take more than simply bringing in a robotic arm or two to make a true difference in the company, he needed people who could run those robotic arms and other manufacturing equipment in order to make them work at peak efficiency.

After all, without guidance from a qualified engineer to tell the robot arms what to do, they would be little more than extraordinarily expensive paperweights. Drew needed qualified engineers to create CAD files and turn them into programs that the equipment could use to turn designs into real-world parts and products.

But where would Drew find the engineers he needed?

Simple, they were already working for him. When the time came to find new engineers to run Marlin Steel’s automated manufacturing equipment, Drew put his existing work force through specialized schooling instead of just hiring on new workers to replace the old ones.

Practical Knowledge and Training Combined

The investment in re-training his existing workforce was high, but it is one that ultimately paid off for Marlin Steel’s owner. With their years of experience in bending, shaping, and using metal in a variety of applications being paired with the expert knowledge and training earned in their technical schooling, Marlin Steel’s newly-minted engineers returned to the workforce with a level of experience and know-how that is incredibly hard to come by.

Not only can these highly-skilled workers operate our automated processes and perform maintenance on both the software and hardware as needed, they have the accumulated knowledge that comes with specialized training and years of real-world experience. Because of this, our engineers are able to answer a number of questions about your needs.

For example, one of our clients had a question about using stainless steel in their high-temperature process. When they had initially been designing their process, they expected to be annealing parts at a temperature of 1,600 °F. To match this temperature, they had chosen to use grade 330 Stainless Steel in order to gain a longer service life for each basket used in the process. However, they had also began testing their process at temperatures of 1,200 °F, and wanted to know if a different, less expensive alloy could be employed in their process at this temperature.

While a treatise on the properties of the different grades of stainless steel (and the variants of each of these grades) and how they react to different temperatures and pressure environments would be long enough to fill an entire book, the basic question of “what is the right temperature” for any given alloy is one that Marlin Steel’s engineers are familiar with.

This client’s question started a short back and forth conversation between our engineer and the client, as they discussed the longevity of different alloys in the customer’s specific process at the lower temperature. One of the key points that was made is that while grade 316 or even 304 stainless steel would work at 1,200 °F, there would be noticeably more scaling with those materials than with the grade 330 stainless steel.

Through the discussion, the client was able to come to a better-informed decision that balanced their short-term costs against the long-term needs of their process.

In the end, our automation allowed us to manufacture the custom wire baskets for the client to microscopic precision to fit their exacting needs quickly, but it was the knowledge and expertise of our engineers that lead to those baskets being the right fit and material to make them perfect.

Take Advantage of Our Knowledge and Experience

If you have a question about your order, or need technical help, the team of engineers at Marlin Steel is here to help you. Whether you want to know what the right temperature for grade 316 stainless steel is or whether you’re better off with a wire basket or a basket made from custom-cut sheet metal, our people have the knowledge to answer your questions. Contact us now so we can help you.

Custom Stainless Steel Mesh Baskets with Handles for Pratt Whitney for Parts Washing Baskets –

Parts Holding Baskets

Custom Mesh Baskets with a lid and handles – stainless steel

Pratt Whitney manufacturing engineers needed to clean fasteners before they put them on sophisticated gear in their manufacturing process. In this application, the baskets will be exposed to an alkali based cleaning solution (13 ph) in three 60 minute cleaning cycles at temperatures approaching 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Eliminating scrap, Improving throughput and Reducing wasteful inspections are critical to Pratt Whitney’s process engineers. Marlin Steel engineers suggested nylon coating (picture is right before we coat) so the parts do not scratch and are pristine – reducing scrap and wasteful inspections. Probing the client to understand the fit, form and function, Marlin Steel engineers decided  to use mesh that had eight openings per linear inch to hold the small fasteners. The baskets will have a lid to constrain the parts and handles to make it easy for the Pratt Whitney team’s automation to move the baskets through the elaborate carefully choreographed process.

By using ultrasonic vibration and pump agitation, the assorted geometry that will be washed and can be consistently cleaned.

Marlin Steel provides custom material handling baskets and custom ultrasonic cleaning baskets to over a dozen Pratt Whitney facilities for over a decade.


How to make sure delicate machined parts do not scratch? One solution is Nylon Coated Material Handling Baskets

Nylon coating material handling wire baskets is a great solution for protecting delicate machined parts from scratching. A scratched precision component causes rework and additional inspections – unacceptable in a high technology factory that requires a workforce devoted to improving throughput and not constantly going back to fix root cause problems. A scratched part that escapes an inspection team and shipped to the client causes additional client dissatisfaction. 

Nylon Powder is a coating material which can be applied to any substrate that can withstand the process temperature of about 400 F.Marlin Steel typically deploys the fluid bed method. At the process temperature it fuses into solid Nylon.  Nylon is FDA approved and the maximum useful temperature is 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Nylon comes in a matte or gloss finish.

Getting it right the first time is critical with a highly engineered material handling basket.

Tolerances – What are Marlin Steel’s Tolerances?

 Tolerances are critical to know before you launch into a custom material handling basket or sheet metal fabrication project. Everyone has to be on the same page. Here are Marlin Steel’s Tolerances: 


in. mm in. mm in. mm
WIRE FORMS & WIRE FORMING 0.125 3.2 0.063 1.6 0.031 0.8
WIRE ASSEMBLIES 0.125 3.2 0.063 1.6 0.063 1.6
FLAT SHEET METAL (laser/punch) 0.015 0.4 0.010 0.3 0.008 0.2
Bent Sheet Metal 0.063 1.6 0.031 0.8 0.015 0.4
Sheet Metal (only) Assemblies 0.063 1.6 0.031 0.8 0.030 0.8

What grades of stainless steel resist oxidation at what temperatures?

Maryland metal

304 Stainless being cut for Marlin Steel

Manufacturing engineers looking for stainless steel products want to know what type of stainless resists corrosion at different temperatures.

Stainless steel is not technically unable to stain or rust. Under low oxygen or high salinity (saltwater), it’s susceptible to corrosion. Various grades of stainless react differently, based on their chemical composition – how much carbon, chromium or nickel they contain. The chromium in stainless steel forms a film that blocks oxygen from corroding the steel surface. The result is “passivation,” which means the material is passive, not so active, when confronted by substances like air and water.

Temperature, fluids and stress on the structure can all spur corrosion. According to the McNally Institute website, the rate of corrosion attack doubles with every 18 F (10°C) rise in temperature. That can be caused by friction between parts as well. Continue reading