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Online metals wire mesh product image Online metals wire mesh product image

Understanding Wire Mesh & It’s Alternatives

Wire mesh can be referred to as many things, from sieve cloth, space cloth, to wire cloth. The term used to describe this product can change depending on the opening size and application. No matter what you call it, it is a very similar product - wire that is woven to form a sheet structure. This article will outline the major differences in terminology, what you can find on OnlineMetals.com, and how to handle or cut the product safely on your own.

While wire cloth and wire mesh are often used interchangeably, the terms can differ based on the opening size and wire gauge. Let's do a quick breakdown of the different products:

  • Wire mesh is a general term that can refer to wire cloth, sieve cloth, space cloth, and other wire-based materials, and is used to reference larger openings when compared to wire cloth.
  • Wire cloth typically has a smaller open area in materials like stainless, brass, and phosphor-bronze.
  • Sieve cloth is a type of wire mesh that is welded directly to the sieve frame, typically made from 300 series stainless steel or brass and can be used in both "wet sieving" and "dry sieving" applications.
  • Space cloth is pre-crimped wire cloth known for its extremely accurate openings and its weave that is substantially tighter than plain weave. It offers a wide range of useful industrial and commercial applications like screening gravel, sand and aggregates.

What Are the Differences Between Wire Cloth & Wire Mesh?

Each wire cloth has a mesh size, this is how many spaces are contained in one linear inch. When the material is referred to as wire mesh, it will usually have larger open spaces between the wires and larger wire diameter and be more rigid. When it is referred to as wire cloth it will have a higher mesh size and smaller wire diameter and be more flexible. There is no standard for when the material is called cloth or mesh. Other ways customers shop for wire cloth are by the opening size and the open area. The opening size is the size of the square woven opening not counting the wire. Open Area is the percentage of open space, not including the wire in each area of the cloth.

Wire mesh application in a wire fence Wire mesh application in a wire fence

What Are the Applications for Stainless Steel Wire Mesh?

The size of the woven cloth will determine the application.

For Mesh Sizes with larger open spaces (Mesh: 2x2 or 4x4) common applications are animal fencing, security mesh, stair rail panels, and architectural panels.

For sizes with smaller open spaces (Cloth: 200x200, 400x400 etc.) common applications are separation or filtration screens, insect screens, gutter guards, fireplace screen, or ventilation. The stainless wire cloth allows for more corrosion resistant applications.

Different shapes and types of wire mesh Different shapes and types of wire mesh

How to Properly Cut Wire Mesh Products

1. Thin Mesh
At the thinnest end of the spectrum, there’s a fine wire mesh, which is usually used to protect small and vulnerable items. At 0 up to 0.008" wire diameter, this can generally be cut with nothing more than a decent pair of office scissors.

However, few businesses will be working with mesh this thin, aside from perhaps plant nurseries and operations along those lines.

2. Medium Mesh
From approximately .008" to .05", the wire can be cut using dedicated snippers or wire cutters. When cutting, try to position the snippers as close to the overlap or weave points as possible. You don’t want to leave a lot of loose ends since those can easily snag on clothes, skin, and do much damage.

The thickness cutoff here is a bit vague since it will largely depend on the strength of the snippers and your hand strength.

3. Thick Mesh
Above roughly .06", cutting woven wire mesh by hand is difficult. You’ll need an angle grinder, at the least – with a cutting disc of at least .9mm (about 0.04 in). Remember to use hearing protection and keep bystanders well away from the cutting area.

Plasma torches work even better, but it’s rare to have one of those lying around.


About Online Metals

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Online Metals is the world’s leading eCommerce metal supplier, specializing in small quantity cut-to-size metals and plastics, delivered in a fast and reliable manner.

Since 1998, Online Metals has expanded our catalog to over 85,000 different cut sizes, grown our national footprint to seven pickup locations across the U.S., and continued to improve upon our best-in-class customer experience.

Check out our materials: Alloy Steel, Aluminum, Anodized Aluminum, Beryllium Copper, Brass, Bronze, Carbon Steel, Copper, Cast Iron, Nickel, Nickel Silver, Plastic, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Tool Steel, Unistrut®, Wrought Iron, & Zinc

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