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Things You Should Know about Perforated Metal and Expanded Metal

Apr. 14, 2021

Although perforated metal and expandable metal have been used in construction for over 100 years, architects, designers and builders are still finding new applications for them and their use continues to grow. Here are things you should know about these two architectural components.

1. New applications

The demand for metal mesh has recently increased in both architectural and security applications. "The advantage of metal mesh in security applications is the increased strength and difficulty of damage compared to chain link," says Drew Bahner, vice president of the Metal Mesh Manufacturers Association (EMMA) and general manager of Expanded Solutions LLC in Oklahoma City. "It's also effective behind gypsum board to prevent business-to-business building violations."


Bill Phillips Jr. of Niles International in Ohio, president/chief operating officer, said expanded metal has new applications in which it is used, and in absorbing specific sound frequencies, EMI/RFI and microwave blocking, design control, lighting control, lighting control with considerable functionality. ventilation, sound control and manufacturing/structural considerations for open areas. He adds, "Other unique applications for metal mesh are in foils with lightning strike protection, fuel cells, filtration and medical functions."


From a design standpoint, perforated metal is becoming increasingly popular in parking garage applications for shade elements and trim with backlighting, says Jim Bush, vice president of sales for ATAS International Inc. of Allentown, Pennsylvania. There is also a requirement for custom-designed perforations." He said.

Aluminum Expanded Metal for 5 Stars Westin Hotel in Sweden

Aluminum Expanded Metal for 5 Stars Westin Hotel in Sweden

2. Sustainability issues

Some argue that mesh metal is the most environmentally friendly open-air metal on the market today. Although it looks like stamped metal mesh, it is actually cut and stretched in one breath, producing no waste in the process. A typical expanded product expands the raw material by more than 300%. However, it depends on the product. "When perforating a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet, you get a 4-foot by the 8-foot perforated sheet and all the scrap from the perforation," Bahner says. Both expanded and perforated sheet metal is cold working processes that use mechanical energy and tooling and do not require welding. Another type of open area metal will be metal strip fencing, which, like expanded metal, does not produce scrap during its processing. However, as metal bar fencing is a welded product, it does consume a lot of energy.


The metal mesh can be produced with zero waste in the process. Michael J. Gilboy, president of Minnesota Thick Metal Hopkins, says, "It actually saves (stretching) up to five times the raw material input, resulting in less material consumption and a reduced carbon footprint." As an awning or building envelope, it can significantly reduce indoor cooling costs, while maintaining beneficial solar gains and thus lower heating costs." Expanded metal improves the quality of the indoor built environment and enhances the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces. The expanded metal mesh provides a medium by introducing filtered day and night views as well as control overheating, cooling and lighting. All this while maintaining visual transparency in the desired direction.


The use of expanded and perforated metal helps to gain credibility as a recyclable material. Materials and Resources (MR) credits can be used for construction waste management, recyclable content and the use of area materials, says Phillips. He added: "The largest part of the Niles product helps to earn this credit." "Energy and Atmosphere (EA) credits for using Niles' building grid objects to add shading to the interior portions of building designs and exterior elevations can help reduce the amount of solar and energy needed to run HVAC systems."

3. Many material options

Many different metals can be perforated. Bush believes aluminium is the ideal material due to its inherent corrosion resistance. He feels this is particularly true for exposed cut edges in holes or penetration locations. banner agrees that aluminium is popular because it does not rust and does not require painting.


Expanded mesh is suitable for most ductile metals, alloys, plastics and polymers. Phillips says that the common materials extended by his company are aluminium, brass, bronze, copper, carbon steel, nickel alloys, platinum, silver, stainless steel and titanium.


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