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How Is Expanded Metal Made?​

The process for creating expanded metal was first developed and patented in the 1880’s in Hartlepool, UK. Despite technological advancements, the modern process for expanding metal remains similar to the original technique.

What Is Expanded Metal?​

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  1. Expanding metal is plate or sheet that has been cut and stretched into a mesh. Stretching the metal results in a mesh with diamond-shaped spaces – although many other patterns can be created. Many types of metal can be expanded, including: stainless steel, black steel, bright steel, aluminium and more.

  2. The pattern of the mesh can either be staggered (providing the most open area) or in a straight pattern with all rows and columns aligned. The proportion of open area determines the amount of space for the passage of air, water and light, and will vary according to the intended application of the expanding metal.

Benefits of Expanded Metal​

There are several benefits to using expanding metal:

    • Cost-effective: A small quantity of metal can be stretched into a large piece.
    • Efficient Process: There is very little waste when manufacturing and processing expanding metal mesh.
    • Good conductor: Because expanding metal is one piece, it can be excellent conductor of electricity, magnetic flux, and heat.
    • Protective reinforcement: Expanding metal meshes can be combined with glass, concrete, and other materials for added strength.
    • High strength: Expanding metals support weight and withstand stress better than woven metals or jointed welds.
    • Low weight: Expanding metals are lighter than traditional metal sheets.
    • Allows circulation: Expanding metal allows air and light to move freely.
    • Acoustic properties: Specially developing meshes can enhance acoustics and provide soundproofing.
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How Is Expanded Metal Made?

  • Expanding metal is produced by an expanding machine, which turns solid metal sheets and coils into an expanding metal mesh. The expanding machine is fitted with a knife which determines pattern for the mesh. As the metal is fed through the expanding machine, it is cut and stretched simultaneously using a pressured slitting and stretching process. The slits created by the knife allow the metal to be stretched, which produces uniform holes. To ensure a consistent pattern, the expanding machine is programmed or operated manually as the metal is fed through. The finished expanding metal is then wound into coils or cut into sheets.

  • Depending on the intended application, different thicknesses of metal can be used and different mesh patterns can be chosen. L.W.D (Long Way Diamond) and S.W.D. (Short Way Diamond) are commonly used to indicate the desired length and width of the diamond shaped mesh holes.

Types of Expanded Metal​

The most common types of expanding metal are:

  1. Standard expanding metal is extremely versatile and economical. It comes in a variety of gauge and opening sizes. It is often used to provide a rigid, raised, slip-resistant surface. In standard expanding metal the strands and bonds are set at a uniform angle. This provides extra strength and rigidity whilst allowing maximum air circulation.
  2. Flattened expanding metal is produced by cold rolling expanding metal to flatten it. It is chosen when a smooth surface is required. The flattening process generally elongates the length of the sheet by 5%.
  3. Hexagonal expanded metal has hexagonal openings instead of the usual diamond ones. The hexagonal shape gives the metal extra strength while allowing the passage of air, light, heat, sound and liquid. Hexagonal openings are preferred over diamond openings when the metal is heavily expanding.
  4. Architectural expanded metal features the diamond pattern with added architectural features. The result is a design which combines good aesthetics, increased security and privacy, and improved ventilation. It is suitable for functional and decorative purposes, or a combination of the two.
  5. Micro expanded metal features small openings in light gauge metal. The openings can be standard, flattened, hexagonal and square. This type of expanding metal is often used in filters.