Basics of Wire Mesh

01 Mar.,2023


Basics of Wire Mesh

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Basics of Wire Mesh

Wire mesh is fabricated by the intertwining, weaving, or welding of wires of various thicknesses to create proportionally equal parallel rows and intersecting columns. Also known as wire fabric, wire cloth, or hardware mesh, the production of wire mesh involves the weaving of wire on industrial looms, leaving square or rectangular gaps between the wires. Welded wire mesh or fabric is manufactured using an electric welder that joins parallel longitudinal wires where the wires intersect.

There are a limitless number of shapes, sizes, and configurations of wire mesh made from an assortment of highly durable and resilient materials whose major function is to separate, screen, structure, and shield various applications and processes. The types of wire include galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum, steel, and copper alloy wire. The type of application, necessary tensile strength, durability, longevity, and required flexibility are some of the factors used to determine the desired type and style of wire.

How Wire Mesh is Made

The processes used to produce wire mesh are weaving and welding, with wire weaving being similar to the weaving of cloth on a loom, while welding is used to join the wires where they intersect. Both processes are completed using pre-programmed machines.

Wire Weaving

Near the end of the 17th century, woven wire cloth for the mining and pulp industries came into high demand, leading to the development of wire weaving looms. Over the centuries, the use for wire mesh has advanced beyond mines and pulp mills to architecture, plastic extrusion, aggregate screening, and filtration processing. The rise in demand has led to the modern industrial wire weaving industry.

  • Weaving Loom — Weaving looms weave mesh rolls with widths of 48”, 60”, 72”, 98”, or wider. The loom has a warp beam, heddle frames, a reed, a rapier for transporting weft wire, and a take-up mechanism.

Manufacturers use looms to weave meshes of standard and custom patterns. The completed mesh rolls are cut to varying lengths depending on the needs of customer specifications. Wires woven horizontally or lengthwise are warp wires, while wires woven vertically or crosswise are referred to as weft wires or shute wires, terms commonly used in textile manufacturing.

  • Warp Beam — The warp beam is a cylindrical drum wrapped with the warp wires. The warp beam's tension must be meticulously controlled to avoid elongation of the woven mesh. The number of warp wires varies depending on the mesh width and must be kept the same length.
  • Heddle Frames — The heddle frames separate the wires that are fed by the warp beam. Most looms have two heddle frames, with one used to lift half of the warp wires while the other pulls the warp wires down. The heddle frames change position as the weft wires move across the warp wires.
  • Rapier Band — The weft wires are carried across the full width of the cloth by the rapier at each cycle of the heddle frame. It feeds a single weft wire between the sets of warp wires.
  • Reed — The reed keeps the warp wires from the warp beam in place and accurately spaced and separated. Once the weft wire moves across the warp wires, the reed beats the weft wires tightly in place in the wire cloth.
  • Take-Up — The take-up mechanism is a set of rollers that takes the fabric away from the loom with a pickup roller and two other rollers that work together to wind the cloth to the cloth roller. The fabric is wound in single layers with a smooth flat surface created by it being passed through the set of rollers.

Once the loom has been assembled and the warp beam loaded, the weaving process is completed automatically. As the loom begins, the warp beam unwinds in slow, even increments. In unison with the warp beam feeding the warp wire, the take-up mechanism winds the woven completed cloth in the same increments as the warp beam. The synchronized motion helps the loom maintain tension on the warp wires, which is a critical necessity for the production of high-quality cloth.

Welded Wire Mesh

Wire mesh is welded using a semi-automatic process that welds the intersections of the woven wires. Welding machines are programmed to weld the intersections at the horizontal and vertical aligned wires. Several welding techniques are used to join the connections, including resistance welding, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, plasma welding, and soldering.

  • Weld Mesh Machine — The process of wire mesh welding begins with feeding wires into a weld mesh machine, which is much like the heddle frames and reeds of wire weaving.
  • Wire Spools — Separate spools of wire are fed through a straightener. Pre-cut wires that match the dimensions of the wire mesh are placed separately from the wires fed from the spools. Since the wires are coming off spools, whether pre-cut or fed from them, they are mechanically straightened to lay flat on the welding surface.
  • Mechanical Placement — The pre-cut wires are laid flat across the wires being fed from the spools. The wires are perpendicular to each other at right angles in mesh welding.
  • Welding — Once the wires are positioned, the programmed welding process begins and applies a uniform weld at each cross-section.
  • Process Completion — The collection of the final wire mesh from the welding process can be in rolls, like wire weaving, or sheets that are trimmed to size and placed in piles of wire mesh panels.

Welded mesh is heavier, sturdier, and stronger than woven wire mesh and can only be used with thicker wires that are capable of withstanding the welding process. Since the wire is welded, it is more rigid and durable, which makes it ideal for fencing, cages, and concrete mesh sheets.

Types of Wire Mesh

The different kinds of wire mesh are classified by how they were made, their qualities, function, and weave patterns. Each of the various types is designed to meet the strength, weight, and finish requirements of a project or application. The determining factors regarding the type of wire mesh that will be used are its finish, type of metal, and type of pattern, with finish and metal being the major determining factors.

Welded Wire Mesh

Welded wire mesh has square-shaped wire patterns. The welding process forms a strong mesh, which makes it perfect for security fencing, storage and racking in warehouses, storage lockers, animal holding areas in veterinary clinics and animal shelters, room divisions, and traps for pests.

Welded wire mesh is:

  1. Durable and capable of withstanding changes in weather
  2. Held securely and firmly in place without creep or shifting
  3. Customizable to fit any dimensional needs or specifications

When welded wire mesh is made from stainless steel, it has stainless steel’s durability and corrosion resistance.

Galvanized Wire Mesh

Galvanized wire mesh is made from plain or carbon steel wire that is galvanized, a process that involves applying a zinc coating. The zinc layer acts as a shield that protects the wire mesh against rust and corrosion. Galvanized wire mesh can be welded or woven using galvanized wire or plain steel wire that is galvanized after being woven or welded. Of the two processes, galvanizing the wire mesh after it is processed initially costs more but produces a higher-quality wire mesh.

Galvanized wire mesh is ideal for fencing for agriculture and gardening, greenhouse, architecture, building and construction, security, window guards, and infill panels. Due to its cost, it is one of the more widely used of the different types of wire mesh.

Vinyl-Coated Wire Mesh

The application of a vinyl coating to welded or woven wire mesh creates a strong barrier for very flexible wire mesh. Vinyl-coated wire mesh is stable over a wide range of temperatures, is not degraded by exposure to the sun, and is resistant to scrapes, abrasions, and impact.

The vinyl coating of wire mesh gives the impression that the mesh is made of plastic and is sometimes referred to as plastic mesh. Aside from giving wire mesh an appealing appearance, vinyl-coated wire mesh is long-lasting, durable, and rust- and corrosion-resistant. It seals the wires from water and other intrusive elements.

Welded Steel Bar Gratings

Welded steel bar gratings are produced by forge welding at extremely high temperatures. In this process, perpendicular bars are drawn across a parallel series of rectangular bars, connecting the bars together. The process creates a fused, long-lasting connection that can withstand the most demanding and hazardous conditions. The steel for welded steel bar gratings is carbon steel or stainless steel and is exceptionally durable, strong, and rigid.

Designed to carry heavy workloads for many years, welded steel bar grating is used for landing mats, bridge decking, ventilation grills, ramps, sidewalks, and industrial flooring. Panels are produced in two to three-foot widths in two-foot lengths in a wide range of bar sizes, from 1” to 6” depths and 0.25” up to 0.50” thicknesses.

Stainless Steel Wire Mesh

Stainless steel wire mesh has all of the positive properties of stainless steel and provides high-quality protection and performance. Steel is widely used to produce wire mesh but rusts easily when exposed to the air. Stainless steel, which has the same compounds as steel, has chromium added that is rust-resistant and protects stainless steel from oxidation.

In wire mesh manufacturing, stainless steel is known for its reliability, sturdiness, and durability. The rust resistance of stainless steel makes it adaptable to any outdoor application. It consistently delivers strength and longevity, making it the most popular wire mesh form.

As with all forms of wire mesh, stainless steel can be welded or woven. The grades of stainless steel used to produce wire mesh are 304, 316, and 316L in wire diameters of 0.022 inches up to 0.105 inches (0.55 to 2.66 mm) with openings of a quarter inch up to one inch (6.35–25.4 mm).

Grade 316 stainless steel is a premium alloy that is used for marine applications. It has exceptional corrosion resistance and is not affected by acids, salt water, or seawater, and comes in fine, medium, or coarse sizes. Stainless steel grade 304 is not as corrosion resistant as grade 316 but is exceptionally workable and less expensive than grade 316.

Wire Mesh Patterns

The pattern of wire mesh determines its capacity and how it can be used. There are an endless number of standard weave patterns and customized ones designed to fit a specific application. One distinction between the various patterns is whether the wire is crimped or not crimped, with crimping mechanically changing the contour of the weft or warp wires.

Crimped Wire Mesh

Crimped wire mesh is a square or rectangular weave that is woven using a crimping mesh machine. The processes used to produce crimped wire mesh involve compressing the wire such that the weft wire wraps over the warp wire and the warp wire wraps over the weft wire. The crimping process produces a bending effect on the wires such that they wrap over each other.

  • Pre-Crimp — Pre-crimped weaves are crimped with small folds or ridges that are added before the wire is woven to increase the strength and rigidity of the wire mesh. The process prevents the weft and warp wires from moving and keeps them secure.
  • Lock Crimp — Lock crimp is another pre-crimp process that uses the grooves from the crimping process to lock the weave together at the intersections of the weft and warp wires. As with pre-crimping, the final weave is sturdier and immovable.
  • Inter-Crimp — With inter-crimp, the warp and weft wires are crimped with additional crimps added between the intersections. It is a process used with fine wire with large openings to ensure the weft and warp wires are accurately and properly locked to provide additional rigidity.

Non-Crimped Wire

Non-crimped wire refers to plain wire mesh where the wire mesh is formed by a simple over-under weave of the warp and weft wires. The final product has a simple appearance with a smooth, even surface. Traditionally, non-crimped wire or plain wire has a higher mesh count.

Plain weave wire mesh is the most common of the wire mesh products. Wire mesh that has a 3 x 3 or finer wave has a plain weave pattern. It is commonly used for screening, such as screen doors and window screens.

Double Weave Wire Mesh

Double weave wire mesh is a variation of the pre-crimped weave pattern. In the weaving process, the warp wires pass over and under two weft wires to form a wire mesh pattern capable of withstanding stressful and demanding uses. The double weave wire mesh pattern produces a wire mesh with extra durability for supporting vibrating screens in mining operations and crushers, fences for farming, and screens for barbecue pits.

Flat Top Weave Wire Mesh

Flat top weave has non-crimped warp wires and crimped weft wires that create a sturdy, lockable wire mesh with a flat surface. It has a long abrasive life since no wires project from the top of the mesh to wear. Flat top weave wire mesh has little flow resistance, making it popular for architectural and structural applications requiring a smooth surface. A common application for flat top weaves is for vibrating screens.

Twill Weave Wire Mesh

The twill weave pattern is ideal for weaving heavier and larger diameter wires. The pattern is formed by weaving warp wires over and under two weft wires or where a weft wire passes over and under two warp wires. The warp wire is inverted at the intersections to create a highly stable, rigid, and strong wire mesh. As the pattern develops, it becomes staggered, giving an appearance of parallel diagonal lines.

Twill weave wire mesh can support heavier loads and perform fine filtering. It is a basic component of the production of filters, colanders for aliments, chemical production, shielding, and mosquito nets. For filtering processes, it is made of stainless steel grades 304 and 316 due to their resistance to acids and wear.

Dutch Weave Wire Mesh

Dutch weave is different from plain weave wire mesh and twill weave wire mesh. In dutch weave wire mesh, the weft wires have a different diameter than the warp wires, with the warp wires being coarser to supply greater tensile strength. Weft wires are finer with smaller diameters to enhance filtering performance. The increased strength and finer openings make dutch weave wire mesh popular as a filtering cloth.

The dutch weaving process can be plain or twill, each of which has individual characteristics to fit the needs of different applications.

  • Plain Dutch Weave Wire Mesh — Plain dutch weave combines the dutch weave process with plain wire weave. Using two different diameter wires, the coarse warp wire passes over and under the weft wire while the weft wire passes over and under the warp wire. The main advantages of plain dutch weave wire mesh are mechanical stability, finer wire openings, and exceptionally high tensile strength.

  • Twill Dutch Weave Wire Mesh — Twill dutch weave is a combination of regular twill weave and dutch weave. The weft wire alternately passes over and under two warp wires creating a fine mesh in the direction of the warp wire, with the warp wires forming a coarser mesh in the same weave. Twill dutch weave is superior to normal twill weave due to the finer openings and the ability to support heavier loads for filtering applications.

The advantages of twill dutch weave wire mesh are its better filtering potential, tensile strength, the ability to filter exceptionally fine materials, and its stability.

  • Reverse Dutch Woven Wire Mesh — Reverse dutch woven wire mesh is the same as plain dutch woven wire mesh. The difference between the two weaves is how the weft and warp are woven, with the warp and weft wires being reversed. Thin warp wires are placed close together and woven with thicker weft wires, which creates higher strength in the warp wires. The reverse dutch weave is used in applications that need wire mesh with acoustic properties, mechanical strength, and throughput filtration.

Off Count Wire Mesh

Off count wire mesh refers to wire mesh that does not have the same mesh count in both directions creating a rectangular rather than square mesh pattern. It is used in sifting and sizing operations to increase productivity and also where slight inaccuracies are not an issue.

Stranded Weave Wire Mesh

Stranded weave wire mesh uses small-diameter weft and warp wire bunches that are woven in a plain square pattern. The use of multiple wires creates a twill style pattern that is extremely tight and strong. The tightness and density of the weave are useful in microfiltration cloth.

Mesh Count

The term mesh count refers to one of the most important principles of the wire mesh manufacturing industry. It is in regard to the number of openings per linear inch in wire mesh. The mesh count is determined by counting the number of openings in one linear inch from the center wire of a wire mesh. It is expressed as a single digit, such as no. 4 for a 4 by 4 mesh or no. 20 for a 20 by 20 mesh. The number is an indication of the number of openings in one linear inch.

Wire Mesh Edges

The two forms of wire mesh edges are raw and selvage. When wire mesh cloth is woven, the weft wires form an edge along the length of the roll and prevent the mesh from unraveling. In the case of a raw edge, those weft wires are uncovered at the edge of the wire mesh.

With selvage edge wire mesh, the border of the wire mesh is finished to increase the stability of the mesh and protect workers when handling the mesh. There are various methods for creating selvage edges, including looping the wires at the edge of the cloth.

Wire Used to Make Wire Mesh

The raw material for wire mesh is its wire, which is made from several types of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The wire used to produce wire mesh comes in various gauges, which is a numerical representation of the thickness of a wire. In gauge numbering, lower numbers represent thicker wires while higher numbers signify thinner wires.

For plain and crimped wire, the gauge of wire is the same for the shute or weft wires as it is for the wrap wires. With dutch woven wire, the weft and warp wires have different gauges. The bundles for stranded wire mesh consist of very small gauge wires that have been twisted together.

Aside from the gauge of wire, the metals used to make the wire determine the type of wire mesh and its use. Wire for wire mesh is made by drawing raw metal through a die or draw plate. The majority of wires used to make wire mesh are cylindrical, with square, hexagonal, and rectangular also used.

Carbon Steel in Wire Mesh

Carbon plain steel is one of the more popular metal wires used to manufacture wire mesh. It is mainly iron with a small amount of carbon and is a low-cost, versatile metal used for window guards, screens, and separation screens for mining. Carbon steel can be zinc coated to make galvanized steel wire or powder coated with plastic.

Stainless Steel in Wire Mesh

Stainless steel wire mesh is exceptionally strong and durable with an appealing shiny luster for use in architectural applications. Many stainless steel grades are used in the manufacture of wire mesh, with grades 316 and 304 being the most common.

  • Grade 304 — has excellent corrosion, heat, and oxidation resistance and is one of the most widely used metal wires in the production of wire mesh. Much of its appeal is due to its very reasonable price.
  • Grade 316 — has excellent corrosion, oxidation, and heat resistance at temperatures of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Additionally, it resists pitting in chloride environments due to its molybdenum content.
  • Grade 310 – has excellent temperature properties, good ductility and weldability, and exceptional toughness. Grade 310 wire is reserved for use with custom-made wire mesh.
  • Grade 321 — is austenitic 18/8 stainless steel that is stabilized with titanium. It is used for wire mesh for oil refineries.
  • Grade 347 — is also an 18/8 austenitic stainless steel but is stabilized with niobium and tantalum to improve its resistance to corrosion.

Aluminum Wire in Wire Mesh

Aluminum is lightweight, flexible, malleable, corrosion-resistant, and low priced. It is the most popular of the non-ferrous metals used to produce wire mesh. Aluminum grade 1000, pure aluminum, is seldom used to produce aluminum wire mesh. The majority of aluminum is alloyed with other metals such as copper, magnesium, zinc, or silicon in certain percentages to increase the strength of aluminum as well as improve some of its other properties.

Alloys 1350, 5056, and 6061 are the most commonly used for the production of aluminum wire mesh.

Copper in Wire Mesh

Copper wire mesh is ductile and malleable, with exceptional thermal and electrical conductivity. It is often used for radio frequency interference shields in Faraday cages and electrical applications. As with aluminum, copper is seldom used in its pure form and is usually alloyed to enhance and improve its natural properties.

Copper changes color when exposed to salt, moisture, and sunlight, from salmon-red to shades of brown to gray and, finally, blue-green or gray-green. To avoid the change in the color of copper wire mesh, it is treated with coatings and chemicals, which speeds up or slows down the oxidation process.

Brass in Wire Mesh

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. It is a soft, pliable metal known as 270 yellow brass or 260 high brass in wire mesh manufacturing. The chemical composition of 270 yellow brass is 65% copper and 35% zinc. With 260 high brass, the chemical composition is 70% copper and 30% zinc. The increased content of zinc in brass wire mesh gives it high tensile strength and abrasion resistance and produces hardened mesh.

Industrial grade brass wire mesh has a yellow tint that makes it popular as a decorative artistic addition to architectural projects.

Bronze in Wire Mesh

Bronze is also an alloy of copper that consists of 90% copper and 10% zinc. It has the same properties as copper, including malleability, ductility, and durability. Bronze has a higher resistance to corrosion than brass and is harder and less malleable than copper. It is used for industrial applications such as filtering and architectural applications.

The alloys and metals listed above are the more popular types of wire used to produce wire mesh. Other metals that are used for custom wire mesh are titanium, Hastelloy, Monel 400, nichrome, Inconel, and tungsten. Essentially, any ferrous or non-ferrous metal that can be formed into a wire can be used to produce wire mesh.

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Uses for Wire Mesh

There are endless uses for wire mesh patterns because they are adaptable and can meet any requirements. Industrial uses for wire mesh are as protective shielding, parts of filtration and separation systems, and railing supports. Wire mesh is the primary part of filtration systems in wastewater treatment plants, petrochemical facilities, and juice production.

Aside from its industrial use, wire mesh has had commercial uses for many years as protection against insects and as parts of animal enclosures. Screen doors, window screens, screen partitions, and decorative screens are produced using various forms of wire mesh.

Industries that rely on wire mesh are:

  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Building
  • Chemical
  • Coal
  • Construction
  • Food and Beverage
  • Mining
  • Petrochemical
  • Plastics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Textiles

Commercial and residential uses for wire mesh include:

  • Security Screens
  • Fireplace Screens
  • Stairwell Screens
  • Gutter Guards
  • Fencing
  • Bird Screens
  • Ventilations
  • Window Screens
  • Dog Cages
  • Bird Feeders

The Benefits of Wire Mesh

  1. Easy Installation — Wire mesh is flexible and pliable to easily insert or connect to a wall, railing, or flat surface.
  2. Electronics Storage — Computers, monitors, and other electronics have to be placed in well-ventilated storage areas. Wire mesh makes it possible for delicate and sensitive electronics to be held securely with limited access.
  3. Convenience — Wire mesh can be used as partitions to separate work positions but afford easy accessibility. It can be easily removed or rearranged to meet the needs of changing organizational dynamics.
  4. Visibility — In warehousing, wire mesh can be used to separate items but make them easily detectable and visible for retrieval. The use of wire mesh removes time-consuming searches and inventory checks.
  5. Customer Area Partitions — Wire mesh can be used to allow customer interaction while preventing them from entering the work area.
  6. Strengthening and Support — In the construction industry, wire mesh is added to a building to provide extra support and backing for walls and ceilings.
  7. Cost-Effective — Wire mesh is a cost-effective way to replace panels, shelves, and supports. It is easy to maneuver and place. The superior strength of wire mesh makes it a positive alternative to other forms of filtering and support materials.

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