expanded metal sheets

Your Short Guide to Expanded Metal Sheet

07.19.2022

How are expanded metal sheets made? And what makes them such a widely used material?

Expanded metal sheet fabrication is a highly efficient process that includes stretching, slitting, and rolling sheet metal. A machine stretches and then cuts the metal with an upper and lower blade to produce diamond-shaped openings. These openings provide structural bonding value without need for additional strengthening processes and give expanded metal a unique mesh-like appearance. Once the expanded metal sheet has been die-cut it is flattened with a rolling mill.

This fabrication process produces zero metal waste and fashions a strong, highly versatile, metal product that can be sheared into custom-sized sheets or wound into coils for various uses across industries.

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What is Expanded Metal Sheet Used For?

expanded metal sheets

Expanded metal sheet provides strength and versatility across industries. Since the die-cutting process is adjustable, expanded metal sheet is ripe with decorative possibilities, whether for sculptural artworks, architectural screening, or other commercial designs.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of expanded metal sheet applications:

  • Machine and window guards
  • Catwalks, platforms, and stair treads
  • Screens and flooring
  • Railing mesh on stairways, balconies, and construction sites
  • Conveyor belts
  • Racks and shelving
  • Fire pits and grills
  • Sound proofing
  • Stereos and microphones
  • Outdoor equipment, park benches and other playground equipment
  • Air and fluid filters/strainers
  • Shielding
  • Ventilation Systems
  • Decorative dividers and partitions
  • Security Walls, Ceilings, Floors, Doors
  • Concrete Reinforcements
  • Greenhouses

What are the Types of Expanded Metal?

There are three common types of expanded metal sheets:

Standard Expanded Metal

Standard expanded metal is considered the most flexible and high value type of expanded metal sheet. It is widely available in a range of gauges and sizes and is characterized by a raised, slip-resistant, base. All strands and bonds are set at the exact same angle, made from sheet metal that has been pressed and die-cut. Raised expanded metal is commonly seen in stair treads, trailer ramps, shelving, and other applications where slip-resistance is beneficial.

Flattened Expanded Metal

Flattened expanded metal grating requires passing standard expanded metal through a cold rolled reducing mill. This process flattens the signature raised bonds of standard expanded metal and reduces thickness and weight to create a smooth, flat surface. This is a suitable material for many applications in the agricultural, commercial, and automotive industries.

Expanded Metal Grating

Expanded metal grating is a low-maintenance product produced from a single metal sheet. Without joints or welds, this metal product is a heavy-duty, open-air solution ideal for fire protection, and to prevent dirt, snow, grease and other unwanted debris accumulation.

Where does Expanded Metal Mesh Fit In?

expanded metal sheets

Expanded metal mesh is made of a single sheet of compressed and stretched material. It can be used to replace metal or wire mesh since doing so produces a material that is stronger than fine metal mesh. It also allows for improved airflow and drainage capabilities. It is often the go-to choice for wire baskets.

What is Expanded Metal Mesh Used For?

When expanded metal is used for mesh baskets it can go into several high-impact industrial applications. From shot peening parts to shot blasting parts, expanded metal mesh baskets will provide the impact resistance needed to endure constant exposure to high stress conditions.

Expanded metal mesh baskets are also selected for storage, stacking, packaging, and delivery processes. They also provide good surface quality which aids in overall durability and withstands exposure to outdoor settings. Expanded metal mesh also provides protection from fire and can be seen as a protective shield on fire pits, grills, heating devices, and other products requiring high heat tolerances and airflow.

What are the Key Advantages of Expanded Metal?

expanded metal sheets

There are various benefits of using expanded metals:

  • Metal-saving, efficient manufacturing process. When compared to similar metal products—like perforated metal, which requires metal to be punched rather than cut and stretched—expanded metal fabrication does not produce any metal waste.
  • Light weight. Flattened and expanded metals are thin and light.
  • Low maintenance. Metal grating maintenance is simple and straight forward, and often comes with a protective coating that will prevent rust.
  • Indoor and outdoor applications. Expanded metal sheets are used across indoor and outdoor applications, adding to this metal product’s versatility.
  • Reinforcement. Expanded metal mesh can mix with glass, concrete, and other materials to add strength.
  • High tensile strength. Expanded metals handle more weight and tolerate stress better than woven metals or jointed welds.
  • Free movement of air and light. Metal that has been expanded allows for free movement of air and light. Liquids, dirt, grease, and other materials are also able to pass freely.
  • Acoustic improvement and sound deadening capabilities. Expanded metal mesh can be used in microphones and speakers as well as extra layering to sound proof rooms and walls.

What are Common Expanded Metal Terms?

Expanded metal sheets are unique and include specific terms that will aid in understanding expanded metal sizes and expanded steel products in general. The above image shows standard expanded metal, with the gray areas indicating the raised, skid-resistant edge quality.

Bond: This is the intersecting point where adjacent strands meet. The bond is always twice the width of the strand.

Strand: This is the single metal strip which forms the border of the opening.

Strand width: The amount of material advanced for expanding.

Strand thickness: The thickness of the metal from which the expanded metal is produced.

Opening / Aperture Size: Typically the open area formed by bonds and strands is diamond shaped. Different die-cutting settings can alter the final material output characteristic, however.

SWO or SWA: Short way of opening, or short way of aperture is the dimension measured across the sheet in a direction parallel to the smallest side of the diamond, accounting only for the size of the opening.

LWO or LWA: Long way of opening, or long way of aperture is the dimension measured across the sheet, parallel to the largest side of the diamond, accounting only within the opening’s size and not the material edges.

Mesh: Expressed in inches, this is the nominal distance from the mid-point of one bond to the mid-point of the next bond measured across the SWA.

Percent of Open Area: Designers and engineers calculate the degree to which light, air, or other objects can pass through a piece of expanded metal.

Pitch: This is the measurement from a point on one diamond to the same point on an adjacent diamond. In certain decorative designs this number may not be consistent throughout the expanded metal sheet.

Style: Expanded metal style is expressed as the gauge number for the thickness of the original metal prior to expansion. For metal grating, style is expressed in pounds per square foot.

Why is Expanded Metal 4 x 8 the Most Common Size?

4 x 8 is a standard size for expanded metal sheet. It provides weight and metal savings while conveniently fitting a wide range of common and specialty applications. Check out the 4 x 8 sizing chart below as a reference.

4×8 Flattened Expanded Metal Size Chart

Flattened Expanded Metal Style

Weight in

    lbs.per

    C.S.F

Standard Size

    in feet

SWO

LWO

Size of Strands

   in inches

Flattened Expanded 1/4″ #20

83

4X8

0.255

1.030

0.086

0.03

Flattened Expanded 1/4″ #18

111

4X8

0.255

1.030

0.086

0.04

Flattened Expanded 1/2″ #20

40

4X8

0.500

1.260

0.07

0.029

Flattened Expanded 1/2″ #18

66

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.500

1.260

0.109

0.039

Flattened Expanded 1/2″ #16

82

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.500

1.260

0.103

0.05

Flattened Expanded 1/2″ #13

140

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.500

1.260

0.122

0.07

Flattened Expanded 3/4″ #16

51

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.923

2.100

0.115

0.048

Flattened Expanded 3/4″ #14

63

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.923

2.100

0.119

0.061

Flattened Expanded 3/4″ #13

75

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.923

2.100

0.119

0.07

Flattened Expanded 3/4″ #10

114

4X8

0.923

2.100

0.16

0.07

Flattened Expanded 3/4″ #9

171

4X8,4X10,5X10

0.923

2.100

0.164

0.12

Flattened Expanded 1″   #10

165

4X8

1.090

2.560

0.16

0.11

Contact Our Qualified Team

Looking for expanded metal sheets in a different size? Kloeckner Metals supplies expanded metal sheet to customer specifications and will work with you to meet your unique needs.

Contact Us Now

Sara Montijo
Sara Montijo is a writer for Kloeckner Metals.
expanded metal sheets
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