Expanded metal, or expanded metal sheet, is a kind of sheet metal that is made with mesh-like material, which is generally referred to as the expanded metal mesh that looks just like a metal net. Different from the expanded metal mesh in our usual image, the expanded metal sheet is often cut and stretched to form a regular pattern, usually diamond-shaped.
Generally, an expanded metal sheet can be found in the form of a fence. However, sometimes they can be used as the metallic lath to support plaster or stucco. Speaking of the strength, this kind of metal net is much stronger than the expanded metal mesh since the former is made by a metal sheet while the latter is made by wire mesh. It is because the material is flattened which allows the metal to stay in one piece. Moreover, the metal net is not really cut or reconnected. Thus, the expanded metal can keep its strength and provide maximum protection.
The inventor of expanded metal is John French Golding. He obtained the first British patent in 1884 and founded a company to manufacture this kind of metal nets in 1889. Since the company was established, it has been providing many kinds of expanded metal to the market. Besides the expanded metal in net forms, cages made of this technique are also their products. Moreover, up till now, this company is still a globally recognized market leader in the industry of expanded metal manufacturing.
Expended metal is usually designed in the shape of a diamond, circle, or square. Among all the shapes, diamond is the most robust and strongest one. It can efficiently absorb the energy it faces and resists mechanical deformation upon installation. The angle is also one of the designing considerations. In general, there would be two acute and two obtuse angles to form the diamond. The angle should not be too large because the larger the angle is, the weaker the energy absorbing capability would be. This is because the large-angle would create a large space inside the shape and result in poor energy-absorbing capability.
However, on the other hand, the angle should not be too small. If the angle is too small, the linked diamonds would be too closed to each other. It would also weaken the capability of absorbing energy because there would be no space for the structure to hold. The most commonly used combination is 90º plus 60º. The 60º angle is put on the diamond diagonal at the start and end of the metal sheet. On the other hand, the 90º angle would make the diamond vertical to the start and the end of a metal sheet.
By the cooperation of these two angles, this combination of the metal net, the strength can be guaranteed. About the raw material, the most commonly used are aluminum and stainless steel. Both of these two metals contain the properties of durable and stainless which are really ideal for being manufactured into high protective products. These two metals can be considered as strong metals that can bear heavy weights and high impact.
Aluminum can work in extremely cold or extremely hot environments. Moreover, it is light-weighted with high strength. When installing the aluminum expanded metal sheets, it is not as hard as installing the ones made by other metals. The other one, stainless steel, is one of the most popular materials used in manufacturing expanded metal. As its name shows, stainless steel would not be ruined by stains. Moreover, its capability of bearing heavyweight and high impact is also excellent that can provide enough protection. However, comparing with the aluminum one, stainless steel is heavier and is not as easy to install as the previous one is.
In general, expanded metal is used to make fences, walkways, and grates. It can be found everywhere in our daily lives. Comparing with other barriers made of metal sheets, expanded metal is designed as a net that can allow winds and lights to go through. Moreover, the grids on the expanded metal can provide more traction and, in the end, strengthen the whole net. By this advantage, the expanded metal can also be used in making catwalks or drainage covers that require high weight-bearing capability.
Mostly, the construction industry uses expanded metal the most. Besides decoration, these metal nets can also be used for safety purposes. In the construction industry, plenty of expanded metal would be used as metal lath to support materials such as plaster, stucco, or adobe in walls and other structures. When it comes to the application of using in building decoration, the expanded metal would be put on the walls, gates, or screens. With contemporary architecture, photographic images or lights would be combined with these decoration structures, in order to create a better outward appearance. Also, the expanded metal can be used in art fields to become excellent artworks by intelligent artists.
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