Parts Washing Baskets with Integrated Rods

Marlin Steel Basket with Integrated RodsRecently, our company was contacted to create a specialized wash basket to hold machined aluminum housings during the cleaning process. The expected daily output of this process? 10,000-20,000 parts per day.

During the washing process, the parts would be cleaned with a chemical detergent, then rinsed with a specialized corrosion inhibitor.

On top of that, not all of the parts being put through this process would be the same. There would be variances in size, shape, and weight. So, unlike many other custom wire forms, which would be designed to hold a specific part in place, and no others, these wire baskets would have to be designed in such a way as to accommodate several different kinds of parts, loaded in several different ways. Some parts would be loaded vertically, while others would lay horizontally in the basket.

Because of the sheer amount of parts to be washed per day, and the differences in those parts, the baskets for this job would have to be durable and have the ability to hold parts in more than one way. To solve this problem, it was decided to use a series of vertical rods to help keep parts in place.

When parts are placed vertically in the basket, the rods help keep them upright. When parts are laid in the basket horizontally, the rods can help to provide separation of the individual parts so that they do not bump into each other during the wash cycle and become scratched or damaged.

Choosing a Basket Material

For this particular basket design, finding a material that would be durable enough to withstand the high number of parts washing cycles that the client proposed each day was actually quite simple. Although each basket would have to go through a large number of wash cycles each day, the temperature of the wash process itself was relatively low (145 °F), and the detergent used was not a powerful corrosive. The wash process did not have an ultrasonic component, so that also reduced the amount of stress the basket frames would be put under.

Because of this, it was determined that the baskets could be made from Grade 304 Stainless Steel, as this grade of steel was more than tough enough to take the proposed wash process.

Building the Basket

The largest challenge in designing these baskets was not in choosing the right materials and coating, but in integrating the vertical rods into the design in an efficient manner, while still allowing the baskets to stack. Also, for this job, there needed to be a special plate for wash tags so the client could employ a bar code reader for each batch to assist in quality control.

The rods needed to be close enough together that they would hold a sizeable number of parts vertically, but spaced far enough apart to accommodate larger parts that were being placed horizontally. The spacing of these rods needed to be identical from one basket to the next as well to ensure consistency in the loading process.

To allow the baskets to stack while in use, the bottom corners were designed to rest on special wire shapes that were integrated into the raised handles of each basket. The stacking had to be done in this manner because there needed to be an extra few inches of clearance between the lower and upper baskets to allow larger parts to be held in the lower basket.

Marlin Steel Integrated RodsThanks to the assistance of automated wire bending robots, we were able to make sure that every piece of wire in each basket was precisely placed. Also, we used automated welders to ensure that every intersection was done properly. This ensured that the wire shapes in each basket were free from defects that would impair their ability to stack or hold parts in place.

The end result was a basket that met the demands of accommodating a variety of parts through the client’s wash cycle, and a happy client.

Learn more about how Marlin Steel can provide you with “quality, engineered quick” today!

Marlin Steel’s Take on Employee Training is Being Featured on Inc.com

Is there such a thing as too much training? For those of us here at Marlin Steel, there is no such thing as too much training.

In a recent article featured on Inc.com, Marlin Steel’s company president and weekly INC Columnist gives six reasons why manufacturers need to double down on training for their employees. Even in a period of economic hardship (especially in a period of economic hardship), employee training is a great way to differentiate your company, attract top-quality talent, and stay a step ahead of the competition.

From enabling superior quality for production lines, to building your bottom line, learn why your company will benefit from “over” investing in employee training in this Inc.com article today!

The Benefits of Automated Welding in Three Dimensions

Ideal Welding Machine - Marlin SteelFor most automated welders, the welding heads can only move along a flat plane. You can program X and Y coordinates into the welder, but all too often, there are vertical welds that need to be completed as well.

For the vast majority of automated welders, a vertical weld requires that either:

  1. The weld is handled manually, slowing the welding process down which drives up production time and cost and reduces quality and negating the advantages of automation.
    OR
  2. The piece being welded is removed and re-positioned manually so that the “vertical” weld can be done. This reduces the chance of a quality part since when removing the part from the work holding fixture, it is time consuming and likely to cause accretive tolerance issues.

Neither of the above solutions are truly optimal. Both require manual labor to work around the limitations of the automated welder, and carry with them all of the risks associated with doing the weld work manually.

This is why an automated welder with three-dimensional weld capabilities is the best way to ensure the best weld quality in metal forms. Thankfully, with the arrival of the IDEAL welder, Marlin Steel now has a welding machine with the ability to handle welds on the X, Y, and Z axes.

Benefits of 3D Welding

Marlin Steel Ideal Welding Machine - 10 ft tablesBecause the IDEAL welder can move in three dimensions, it can perform all of the welding actions that are required to complete large parts (10’ feet x 4’!). This ensures a consistent quality of welds from the first part that goes into the machine to the last.

Unlike people who get fatigued after performing repetitive tasks for hours on end, an automated welder will never miss an intersection. Not only that, but automated welders can complete weld operations much faster than a human can, reducing the chances that blisters and other heat stress deformities will occur.

Also, because the machine can move the welding head vertically as well as left and right, there is no need for a human operator to move the piece being welded, which means there is no downtime as the part is manually adjusted so that the welder can reach a specific intersection. Less downtime equals more welds being completed, which means more parts being finished per hour than what would be possible if the machine required manual assistance to reach certain intersections of the parts being welded (and far more than doing it by hand would).

For many parts that require a high level of precision in the final dimensions of the product, the IDEAL welder is perfect for performing welds. Not only does an automated welder never miss an intersection that it’s been programmed to weld, but with the minimal deformity of the welds made by this machine, large-scale welding of parts for a product line can be made almost effortless. Every weld done by the IDEAL welder will be consistent, from the first weld to the 10,000th weld, so delicate parts with specific shape requirements can be mass-produced using one of these machines.

Bringing an IDEAL Level of Safety

One of the biggest benefits of a 3D welding capable machine is that it provides a greater level of safety than a standard machine that needs manual adjustment and assistance in completing complex welds.

With a machine that only welds along a flat plane, human operators have to step in and help the machine by hand flattening the part. Sometimes they warp the part too much one way or the other and certainly stress all the welds almost breaking them.

With a 3D-capable welder, the operator can safely stay away from the part being processed, and minimize his or her exposure to welder-related work injuries.

In short, the three-dimensional weld capabilities of the IDEAL welder makes weld jobs quicker, more consistent, and safer than ever before. To learn more about our new automated welder and how it affects the manufacture of your wire forms, contact Marlin Steel today!

Controlling the IDEAL Automated Welder

Ideal Automated Welder - Marlin SteelFor any piece of automated manufacturing equipment, whether it is a metal wire bending arm, a precision laser-cutter, or an extraordinarily sophisticated welder with multiple adjustable welding heads, it takes both hardware and software in order for the machine to work right.

The control mechanism for the Versaweld CSR102-1230-3-MFDC NC Jig Welding System from IDEAL is no exception to this rule. In fact, this revolutionary new welding machine possesses two different sets of controls: one for controlling the motion of the machine (CNC) and a separate, dedicated control for the welding heads themselves.

Controlling the Machine

The CNC controller for the machine itself is a SINUMERIK 840 DSL 32-Bit-Microprocessor from Siemens. What does this particular controller do? It enables:

  • Digital control of up to 32 axes. Basically, it can control every joint of the machine at the same time, in different directions.
  • The ability to store 500 different motion programs on an included 1 gigabyte flash card.
  • Teach-in operation for programming the travel of the machine’s parts.
  • Program testing and correction.
  • Diagnostics of current production run.

These are just a few of the capabilities of the machine controller that the IDEAL welder uses to control the movements of the machine’s arms while in operation. This device boasts a LCD display with an alphanumeric keyboard to make it easier for the operator to program operations manually when needed.

This control mechanism also sports a USB-based interface to allow the import or export of data.

Controlling the Welder

The operations for the welding heads are managed by a separate control mechanism than the one responsible for the movement of the “arms.”

Ideal Welding Machine - Marlin Steel

The weld controller is responsible for controlling:

  • Weld, squeeze, and hold time,
  • Memory for weld programs,
  • Up and Down slope,
  • Pulse weld operation; AND
  • Heat percentage (current intensity).

By placing these operations on a separate controller, the IDEAL welder is able to have millisecond-fast operations for the welding head, even as the arm is in motion.

The controller for the welder is a Medium Frequency DC (MFDC) Welding Controller. It is the 1,000-cycles technology of this controller that enables the welder to achieve its 2/1,000 of a second weld speed, allowing for a higher-quality surface finish of welded parts and reducing spatter, sharps, and other undesirable deformations to a welded part.

Overall, the highly sophisticated controllers and the software that run them allow the Versaweld NC Jig welder to fulfill a variety of welding tasks that would be deemed impossible for other machines. With the unit now on the Marlin Steel manufacturing floor being the only one outside of Germany, we are in a unique position among American manufacturers to bring quality engineered quick with the best quality welds.

The IDEAL Welder’s Turning Heads

Ideal Automated Welder - Marlin SteelWhen we were on the hunt for a new automated welding machine, we knew we needed a machine that would be quick, reliable, and versatile. With the ability to finish welds in two milliseconds, the CSR102 from IDEAL definitely met the quickness requirement. Also, the ability to make welds in three dimensions allow this new welder to make welds at every intersection in a wire basket by itself, which translates into incredibly consistent, reliable welds.

But, what about the versatility of the machine? What features help to make this machine able to adapt to nearly any welding job?

Lower and Upper Z-Axis Welding Heads

The use of four welding heads sounds like a good start to ensuring versatility. That’s right, the CSR102 comes with two pairs of welding heads, one pair on the upper Z axis and one pair for the lower Z axis.

All of the welding heads, both for the top and the bottom are equipped with servomotors that allow for height adjustments on the fly. Needless to say, this feature is invaluable for objects that have welds which need to be made at multiple heights – not on a flat plane. The upper welding heads can shift up to 400 mm up and down, while the lower welding heads can move up to 200 mm.

Two pairs of welding heads allow the CSR102 to make welds along both the upper and lower areas of a given part or wire form with ease. Sheet metal fabrications like housings and consoles and electronic panels in three dimensions are also welded precisely, consistently and fast.

The Pincer Welding Head

Ideal Automated Welder - Marlin Steel Beyond the upper and lower z-axis welding heads, the CSR102 also possesses a special pincer-type welding head that it uses to make vertical welds.

This particular head comes equipped with two separate servos, one to raise and lower the head and one to allow it to rotate 359° of a full circle! One of two heads that can swivel 359 degrees.

A typical welding machine can only do welds at a 90° angle. If all of your welds are taking place on perfectly square forms, this is fine. However, for rounded shapes, such as our round wire baskets or wire guards or wavy shapes, completing intersection welds can be tricky if you can’t rotate the welding head to match the actual shape of the basket or wire product. This often leads to production craftsman having to do welds manually, or trying to move the part into place for the machine to weld while it’s in operation (which can be insanely dangerous and we recommend that you avoid doing this).

The free range of motion that the pincer welding head enjoys allows it to complete complicated, rounded welds quickly and efficiently, without the interference of the operator. This keeps the operator away from the moving machinery and out of harm’s way, while minimizing the amount of time it takes to complete weld operations and time spent adjusting parts in the machine.

Thanks to the number of welding heads that the IDEAL welder employs, and the free range of motion that the attached servomotors grant them, the Versaweld CSR102 certainly lives up to the versatility implied by its name.

See how our new welding system can be used for your own production lines today!

An IDEAL Welding Speed

Ideal Automated Welder at Marlin SteelRecently, we proudly announced the arrival of a new IDEAL welding systems welder to the Marlin Steel production facility. In that announcement, we briefly discussed a few of the benefits that this machine will bring to our company’s manufacturing capabilities.

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the advantages that the welding speed of this new automated welder provides, but first…

How Fast is it?

The Versaweld CSR102-1230-3-MFDC NC Jig Welding System from IDEAL Welding Systems can complete a weld in two milliseconds. That’s 2/1,000 of a second. That is literally many times faster than a human eye blink (which takes 100-400 milliseconds). That’s right, in the time it takes you to blink, this welding system could, in theory, complete up to 50 weld operations.

Most other automated welding machines take 60/1,000 of a second to complete a weld.

What are the Benefits of This Speed?

Ideal Welder - Marlin SteelFaster welds, in and of themselves, mean that this machine can complete more welds than a traditional welding machine. In the time it would take a standard automated welder to complete 2 welds, our new IDEAL welder could finish 60 welds. This means that this welder could significantly increase our production capacity.

However, the ability to complete more welds in less time is only the beginning of the advantages offered by the two millisecond weld speed of our new automated welder.

By finishing weld operations so quickly, the Versaweld CSR102 uses less flash, which translates into less blistering. Typically, joining two pieces of metal with a welder takes time, heating the metal and causing discoloration or bubbling. Because our new welder from IDEAL can make welds so quickly, the metal being joined doesn’t get as overheated and doesn’t form as many blisters.

Fast weld speeds also prevent other deformities in the weld, such as sharps or upsets that can deform a delicate wire form’s shape ever so slightly. Even worse, with a slower weld speed, parts can begin bowing (curving like a potato chip) instead of remaining flat. The more intersections that need to be welded together, the more chances there are for a severe deformity in the wire form to occur.

Typically, such deformities place extra strain on the wire form, causing it to become more prone to failure. By eliminating the possibility of such stresses on the frame of the final product, 2 millisecond welds allow the wire form to last for longer without failing.

In short, faster welds help to ensure the best weld quality possible in metal forms.

With the addition of the IDEAL welder, we can deliver quality engineered quick better than ever before. Contact us to learn more.

Ask Congress to Support Permanent Bonus Depreciation

During the week of July 7, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill – H.R. 4718, sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) – that would restore and make permanent the 50 percent first year expensing provisions that have been in effect for the past several years (until they expired at the end of 2013). Allowing companies to write off half of the cost of their capital investments in the same year that the investment is made will go a long way towards ensuring that companies of all sizes can make the best business decisions for their specific business situation and not be paralyzed by constant on-again off-again pro-investment tax policies.

For example, let’s say that a manufacturer needed to invest a significant amount of their budget into the acquisition of some fixed assets (such as automated manufacturing equipment) in order to remain competitive with foreign competitors. H.R. 4718 would make it easier for such a company to make that investment so that they can stay competitive and continue to add new jobs.

In fact, that’s exactly the kind of investment our company, Marlin Steel, made when we acquired the automated manufacturing machines we use to precision engineer wire forms such as material handling and parts washing wire baskets. With this investment, we were able to open up new markets and grow jobs at a time when we were faced with the very real threat of extinction.

If passed, this resolution can help countless other small businesses make similar investments more readily, growing jobs and keeping American companies competitive.

Other Benefits of H.R. 4718

H.R. 4718 also allows companies that have Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) credits to use those in lieu of taking the 50 percent first-year expensing. In the absence of comprehensive tax reform, manufacturers need critical pro-investment tax policies enacted permanently to allow them to plan for future investments based on business need and not on temporary tax policy.

Expensing is not just a matter of timing. By reducing the after-tax cost of investments, policies like H.R. 4718 allow manufacturers to stretch critical resources and make the investments they need to compete in today’s competitive global economy.

Capital investment is the key to economic growth, job creation and competitiveness. Pro-investment tax policies like this will allow manufacturers to better compete, invest and grow as well as helping to drive increased sales of capital equipment. Please contact your Member of Congress today and urge them to vote in favor of H.R. 4718 and support permanent 50 percent first year expensing.