Monday, March 18, 2013

How is Expanded Metal Made?

The process of working with metal has been around for many, many years. However, expanded metal was only discovered and first patented in the UK in the late 1800s. While it has been used for decades since that time, the work to create it has really not changed all that much.

What is Expanded Metal?

Expanded metal is made when a sheet of metal is slit or sheared, then stretched so it expands and leaves small diamond-shaped spaces in between. The metal may have a staggered pattern, with holes nested (this provides the opportunity for the most open area), or in a straight pattern where rows and columns are all aligned.

What are Common Uses for Expanded Metal?

The most common uses for expanded metal include architectural uses, grates, outdoor furniture, benches, and fencing or guards that are installed around hot or hazardous machinery. It can be used for interior design, sunscreens, noise control, and in specialized industries such as HVAC and food processing.

You can find these steel products in the brewing, chemical, energy, manufacturing, mechanical, and automotive industries. It is also a common material for facilities or units that require heavy-duty security fencing, since it is far more secure and difficult to breach than any other kind of fencing that you might find. Generally it requires specialty cutting equipment, or even explosives to breach the metal.

How is it Made?

Almost any kind of metal can be expanded, even precious and specialty metals. The process begins by feeding sheets whatever metal you are working with into the expanding machine, which is set to a certain specification and includes a unique cutting pattern, or “knife” pattern.

The process is designed to expand metal using two steps performed simultaneously, which ensures that the metal is stretched evenly and it produces very little waste overall. The knife pattern shears the metal, then it is immediately stretched. It continues through the machine until it reaches the final thickness. Once it comes out of the machine, it is immediately rolled up on coils or cut into pre-determined sheet sizes to be sold or used for a variety of different applications.
What are the Benefits of Expanded Metal?

There are several reasons you might consider using expanded metal. It provides many advantages over traditional sheet metal, starting with being cost-effective. The process of making expanded metal uses only a little bit of actual metal in the beginning, but after it’s done stretching, it turns into a significant amount of metal. It can also improve acoustic performance, help contain radiation and other harmful materials, allow for a transparent “wall” that is strong enough to protect sensitive areas but still see-through, and even offer an option for non-skid surfaces. Architects and builders that use it in construction for new buildings can help reduce energy costs as much as 30% by using expanded metal in a building’s fa├žade.  It is also a very low-maintenance option for areas difficult to clean and do upkeep.

When you need material that is strong but durable, and versatile for a variety of different applications, expanded metal from Wasatch Steel may be just what your’e looking for.

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