INTRODUCTION TO WIRE CLOTH
Wire cloth, also known as wire mesh, is an incredibly versatile product consisting of a grid of individual wires that have been woven into a right-angled pattern (over and under each other at 90 degree angles) through weaving. Aside from its easy adaptability to almost any application, it is also extremely durable and very easily cleaned. These basic qualities, as well as other characteristics and variables relating to the weaving of the wire cloth itself, have made this product the material of choice for hassle-free processing and filtration in the industrial, architectural, and commercial sectors for over a century.
Woven wire cloth consists of wires that are formed into a weave pattern, with a variety of different crimping patterns available for the interlocking segments. Welded wire cloth, which provides more strength and versatility than woven wire, is created through manufacturing processes that electrically weld the wires at each intersection. Welded wire cloth also differs from woven wire because it can be shaped as needed via cutting or bending without the wires separating or falling apart.
Wire cloth products can be manufactured from almost any metal. In many cases, a specific metal is chosen as the preferred medium due to higher conductivity, tensile strength, or corrosion-resistance. Aside from the type of metal used in fabrication, other fundamental characteristics of the wire cloth product are the mesh count (openings per inch), wire diameter or thickness, and the open area percentage (total amount of open space). These different elements are essential to fabricating a high-quality end product that maximizes the strengths and benefits of each characteristic when all the individual components are joined together, not unlike the interlocking pieces of a puzzle.
There are many different products that wire cloth can be used for. One of the most popular residential uses for wire cloth is window and door screens, more commonly known as “insect” or “fly” screens. As for industrial and commercial usage, most wire cloth applications are divided into two distinct groups: inclusion and exclusion. For inclusion applications, allowing flow-through of liquids or processed fluids is the primary objective, while exclusion applications focus on restricting particle passage.
Additionally, wire cloth products – particularly filters – are used in processing environments where certain factors work together to create a requirement for durable, versatile, and easy-to-clean products. Some of these factors that must be taken into consideration are temperature extremes, potential corrosion due to chemical exposure, and type and particle size of any contaminants that may be introduced into the filtration system.
Given the far-reaching applicability of wire cloth and the endless number of ways it can be utilized across a diverse spectrum of enterprises, it is a challenge to identify any products – natural or man-made – that are not associated with wire cloth products in some way. From sifting and screening machinery to conveyor and automotive belts, all the way to animal enclosures and architectural framework, wire cloth can be manufactured in numerous shapes and sizes to meet any application’s design specifications. It can even be used solely for decorative purposes or to add value to certain functional designs.
APPLICATIONS & USES FOR WIRE CLOTH Back to Top ^
The various applications and uses for wire cloth or wire mesh products are literally endless, and span across all areas of commerce and industry. Aside from being a product itself, wire cloth is also used to strengthen, reinforce, or improve many other products in a variety of ways.
Here are a number of different uses for wire cloth, with this list by no means being all-inclusive given the vast array of applications wire cloth is or can be a component of. Some of the product applications will be found in multiple areas because of the multiple uses and versatility of those particular items.
Handrail infill panels (welded wire cloth conforms to ADA requirements)
Decorative ceiling panels
Decorative glass inlay (artistically formed wire mesh)
Stucco foundation (thin, square grid wire mesh used as base for stucco work)
Wall accent panels
Sieves (food processing)
Racks, trays, and shelving (retail/commercial display or storage)
Deep-frying baskets (food industry)
Printing & dyeing (paper & screen)
Mining & quarrying uses (dry-sizing, sifting, sorting)
Sand & gravel sifting
Waste treatment & water filtration
Scaffold & stairway guards
Sieves/screens (contaminant filtering)
Vibrating screen decks (“shaker screens”)
Chemical processing/diffusion (stainless steel wire cloth is recommended for chemical processing due to the material’s anti-corrosive properties)
Holiday ornaments (very fine mesh)
Insect/fly screens (door & window screens)
Attic/ceiling insulation component
Skimmers & strainers (kitchen use)
Decorative lamp shades
Cabinet door screening
Sun shades/awnings (very fine mesh)
Rodent, pest, and vermin control
Containment/separation nets in fisheries
Air bag diffuser screens
Reinforced rubber hoses
Grills & radiator guards
Steel-belted vehicle tires
Pharmaceutical particle sizing & filtering
Aeration screens for container gardens
Passenger partition (police car usage)
Live animal traps Rodent, pest, and vermin control
Arts & crafts
Artificial joint component (medical)
Catch baskets for live fish or bait
Safety & crowd control barriers
Blast containment for explosive testing
Faraday cages/EMF shielding (copper wire mesh only)
As you can see, the existing applications for wire cloth – of which these are just a few – are virtually endless. If it can be made, it can be made better with the introduction of wire cloth as a component. Because of the ability to completely customize wire cloth components and products to meet even the most unusual or stringent specifications and the diversity of the various aspects of a wire cloth product (wire thickness, mesh size, aperture, total opening percentage, etc.), there is no limit to what can be done with wire cloth to meet an application’s specific needs.
SPECIFICATIONS FOR FABRICATING WIRE CLOTH PRODUCTS Back to Top ^
MATERIALS USED TO MANUFACTURE WIRE CLOTH
The number of materials that can be used to manufacture wire cloth is extensive, and no two material types have the same qualities or properties. Because of this diversity, selection of a particular material would be largely dependent upon that application for which the wire cloth product is needed, as well as consideration of a variety of factors such as required tensile strength, heat or electrical conductivity, and anti-corrosive properties. The information below provides details regarding most of the metals and alloys that are used to fabricate wire cloth and wire cloth products.
Steel & Stainless Steel
Low-carbon steel: Also called plain steel, this metal has low abrasion and corrosion resistance, which can limit usage; very good tensile strength and impact resistance. Can be galvanized or coated to protect against corrosion.
High-carbon steel: Very abrasion and shock resistant, durable under heavy loads. Excellent for manufacture of vibrating screens for sifting and sorting highly abrasive materials (gravel, stone, coal, etc.).
Stainless steel: There are numerous types of magnetic and non-magnetic stainless steels that can be used, each of which has its own particular qualities making it more suitable for certain applications than the other types. The addition of other metals such as molybdenum, chromium, titanium, and nickel can increase or decrease the various properties and attributes of stainless steel wire cloth, such as the corrosion or heat resistance, shock absorbency, moisture resistance, etc.
Copper & Copper Alloys
Copper: Provides excellent electrical and heat conductivity; non-magnetic and has very good resistance to atmospheric elements such as brine and salty air. Copper is not well-suited to abrasive environments, nor does it have a high tensile strength.
Brass: A copper and zinc alloy, brass has two primary options: high brass and low brass. Both have lower conductivity properties than copper and greater resistance to abrasive and corrosive conditions.
Bronze/Commercial Grade: Having a higher copper content than brass, this alloy is much more corrosion resistant than brass and has very good atmospheric corrosion resistance.
Aluminum & Aluminum Alloys
Widely used because of their light weight and ability to be easily fabricated, aluminum and aluminum alloys have very good strength-to-weight ratios with corrosion resistant properties that work very well for marine uses. One type of aluminum alloy (5056) is able to be heat-treated while the other (6061) is not.
Nickel & Nickel Alloys
Nickel:Over time, pure nickel develops a passive oxide film that increases its corrosion resistance, particularly in oxidizing environments.
Monel: An alloy primarily composed of nickel and copper, Monel has excellent tensile strength and is essentially non-corrodible, especially when exposed to acids, alkaloids, and salt water. It is more resistant to oxidizing and reducing conditions than copper or nickel. (Alloy name is trademarked by International Nickel Company.)
Hastelloy B: Excellent resistance to the corrosive effects of hydrochloric acid up to boiling point; not recommended for high temperature applications. (Alloy name is trademarked by Haynes International, Inc.)
Hastelloy C: Very resistant to strong oxidizing agents and performs well in extremely high temperatures (up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit). (Alloy name is trademarked by Haynes International, Inc.)
Carpenter 20 CB-3: High resistance to the corrosive effects of heated sulfuric acid, but not normally useful for high temperature applications. (Alloy name is trademarked by the Carpenter Technology Corporation.)
Incoloy Alloy (600 & 800): Similar to Carpenter 20 CB-3, this alloy has excellent anti-corrosion properties and can be used for high temperature applications. (Alloy name is trademarked by International Nickel Company.)
Nichrome & Nichrome V: Primarily composed of nickel and chromium, these alloys are very good choices for severe chemical conditions at extreme temperatures (up to 1700 and 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively). (Alloy name is trademarked by the Driver-Harris Company.)
Ideal for surgical implants because of its compatibility with body tissue, tantalum is almost completely immune to adverse effects from corrosion or chemical exposure. It is also very strong and easily manipulated, and responds well to spot-welding but not soldering.
Titanium and its alloys are very well-suited to the aerospace industry and are also used for implants and joint replacements in the medical field. It is very light weight and has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. Like nickel, titanium develops a protective oxide film in natural environments that gives it very good anti-corrosive characteristics.
This metal has very good anti-corrosive properties and remains strong in protective environments up to 5000 degrees Fahrenheit.
An alloy, molybdenum has superior high temperature strength and excellent anti-corrosive properties and retains its integrity in protective environments up to 3200 degrees Fahrenheit.
With good electrical and heat conductivity, silver is used most frequently in the electronics industry.
While the choice of material for fabrication is certainly the most important element in selecting a wire cloth product for your application needs, there are other factors – while not quite so critical – that are essential in manufacturing your wire cloth items that add to or detract from the ability of the fabricated product to function as needed at an optimal performance level.
MESH SIZE AS DETERMINED BY WIRE DIAMETER AND ITS IMPACT ON APERTURE
The mesh size, or openings per inch, is an important part of selecting a wire cloth product and directly affects the item’s ability to sift, sort, filter, or screen various materials. Mesh sizes can be as large as several inches and as small as a couple microns. The choices of wire diameter, or wire thickness, can decrease the aperture if the mesh size remains small. Thicker wire will decrease the size of particles permitted to pass through, and vice versa.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR WIRE CLOTH SPECIFICATIONS
Other characteristics of your wire cloth product will have an effect on its performance, such as the weave pattern and whether or not you’d prefer welded wire cloth over woven products. Welded wire has the advantage of being easily cut and shaped without separation or slippage occurring with the cross-sections of wire, and due to the added strength of the welds, thinner wire can be applied over larger areas. However, welded wire cloth may not be compatible with a particular weave pattern, mesh size, or your choice of material (some materials are not conducive to welding).
WIRE CLOTH SPECIFICATIONS
SQUARE MESH & SQUARE OPENING WIRE CLOTH
The most common type of wire cloth fabricated, square mesh wire cloth consists of wire that is welded or woven at right angles, meaning that the open space between the intersecting wires creates a perfect square with right angles (90 degrees) at all four corners. This type of mesh is measured from the center of parallel wires, often called “center to center” measurements, rather than an “edge to edge” measurement, which calculates the distance between two wires by using the left-hand edge of each wire. Whether you are determining distance using the centers or edges of parallel wires, the mesh opening is the measurement of clear open space between the two wires being used to calculate the mesh distance.
When fabricated, square mesh wire cloth is often referred to by the number of wires within the measurement of one lineal inch. For example, a “5 mesh” wire cloth would be a square mesh that has a total of five openings or open spaces across the width of one lineal inch, with the center of the first wire being the beginning of the one-inch measurement and the fifth wire being the end of the measurement. The higher the mesh count, the smaller the openings will be. Once the mesh count reaches over 50 or so, the wire cloth product is essentially more of a solid panel, with the open area in the mesh being measured in the hundredths and thousandths of an inch.
Woven wire cloth has two main characteristics, the warp wire and the weft wire. In the most basic layman’s terms, the warp is the vertical (up and down) wire and the weft is the horizontal (side to side) wire. The way a cloth is woven can have a decided impact on its strength as well as its ability to permit pass-through of fluids, particles, and potential contaminants. Warp and weft wires can be of the same diameter for a uniform weave, or one of the two can be thicker than the other. Occasionally the type of weave may call for one of the wires to be thicker to improve the durability and strength of the woven wire cloth product.
Wire cloth can also be pre-crimped for a particular pattern which allows for more accurate measurements with regard to opening size, and also provide a greater ability to achieve a tighter weave than non-crimped wire cloth types.
COMMON NON-CRIMPED WIRE CLOTH WEAVES
Plain Woven: In this weave, each warp and weft wire alternates over and under the next.
Twill Weave: Each warp wire goes over two and under two weft wires, and the same pattern is used for the weft wires, in a staggered arrangement. This type of weave is commonly used when a heavier wire diameter is called for in relation to a particular mesh.
Plain Dutch Weave: The warp wires remain straight and uniformly spaced in this weave, while the weft wires go over and under each warp wire but lie as close to each other as possible. In this type of weave, the warp wires are generally thicker than the weft wires.
Dutch Twill Weave: A combination of a twill and plain dutch weave with the exception that the warp wires do not cross over and under every two weft wires, this weave creates a double layer of weft wires packed closely together. As with the plain dutch, the warp wires are thicker than the weft wires. In this type of weave, the aperture (open area) essentially ceases to exist, and the wire mesh allows a slow pass-through of non-particulate fluids.
Reverse Dutch Weave: A reverse of the plain dutch pattern, the weft wires are thicker and remain straight, while the smaller warp wires cross over and under every two weft wires.
COMMON PRE-CRIMPED WIRE CLOTH WEAVES
Double Weave: This type of pre-crimped weave uses the same pattern as the plain woven style (over and under each wire for both the warp and weft wires).
Lock Crimp Weave: The wires have deep crimps (warp and weft) that tightly lock the wires in place. The pattern is the same as the plain woven style.
Flat Top Weave: Another standard “over and under” weave, with this type the weft wires are heavily crimped to lock them securely to the smooth and straight warp wires, creating a smoother surface than other weaves.
Intermediate Crimp Weave: This type of pre-crimped weave is used most often when the open area is larger, and extra crimps are placed in both wires to securely and rigidly hold them in place.
IMPORTANCE OF APERTURE (OPEN AREA)
The intended use of your wire cloth product should be an instrumental factor when deciding what open area size would be best for your needs. The materials you will be sifting, screening, sorting, or filtering, and the size of particulate matter, contaminants, or debris you wish to restrict from being passed through the wire cloth, will determine the open area percentage required. Larger open areas allow larger particulate matter to pass through, naturally, and smaller aperture dimensions permit pass-through of only finely-sized particles and materials.
The size of the open area can also affect the overall durability and strength of your wire cloth product. For example, larger open areas can decrease the integrity of the item as a whole. If you require large open areas in your mesh, you may want to consider selecting a material that has a high tensile strength and the additional qualities that may be required based on your processing needs (anti-corrosive properties, conductivity, resistance to abrasion, etc.).
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING YOUR WIRE CLOTH PRODUCTS Back to Top ^
When taking in all the essential elements of a wire cloth product – material, mesh size, open area, and weave – the possibilities for application and usage are virtually limitless. Each combination of those elements produces a product that has particular attributes making it more suitable for certain types of applications than other combinations, giving you the opportunity to have an ideal wire cloth product fabricated to your specifications for your particular needs.
If you are unsure which elements would be more beneficial to your needs than others, a wire cloth fabrication and manufacturing facility would be able to provide you with assistance on selecting the right elements to combine together to produce the perfect wire cloth product for you. In addition, they can also provide design assistance if you only have a general idea in mind of what you may need for your processing system.
CONCLUSION Back to Top ^
Regardless of the type of industry your business is involved in, if you have machinery or processing systems that require a sifting, sorting, screening, filtering, or straining component, wire cloth provides an ideal solution. The impressive array of fabrication options, from material type to wire diameter to mesh size, along with the ability of the wire cloth to be formed into nearly any shape needed and any size from miniscule to massive, gives you an unparalleled ability to provide incredibly detailed and precise specifications that will be matched exactly when manufacturing your wire cloth products.
As previously mentioned – if it can be made, it can be made better with wire cloth! Wire cloth has an incredibly wide range of applicability in so many areas of our lives that virtually nothing in existence doesn’t already incorporate wire cloth into the manufacturing process or the finished product. With uses in such diverse fields as aerospace engineering and private residential construction, wire cloth and wire mesh products are part of the fabric of our daily lives, literally and figuratively.
On the purely functional end of the spectrum, wire cloth products can be made that are extremely durable with regard to strength and longevity, as well as resistant or impervious to the typically damaging effects of acids, chemicals, temperature fluctuations, and repetitive impact. Conversely, wire cloth products can also be fabricated that are delicate, ornate, and aesthetically compatible with architectural accessorizing and decorative applications. The functional versatility and application adaptability of wire cloth products make them ideal for nearly any use and superior to any alternatives.
When you are in need of a wire cloth replacement product, or if you are considering the selection of wire cloth items for implementation as part of your processing procedures, you can consult with a qualified representative at a wire cloth manufacturing or fabrication facility to determine which of the available characteristics and options will best suit your needs. Whether you have detailed specifications in-hand or just a general idea of what you’re looking for, they will be able to provide end-to-end assistance with all phases of the process and can even assist you with fine-tuning your specifications to ensure that the finished product will precisely match your processing requirements.
Michael J. Patrick
(800) 826 7395