Cambridge Architectural, Cambridge, Mass., manufactures its metal mesh in these steps.
The metal mesh begins as a 3-foot-diameter roll of stainless steel wire from 4- to 20-gauge from a wire mill.
The wire is threaded into a weaving machine. A crimp rod is produced by another machine and brought to the weaving area. At the machine, craftsmen hand weave the crimp rod and wire together; they are responsible for the mesh assembly and for threading the machinery and keeping it running. Depending on the size of the job, this step can take days or weeks. Widths up to 120 inches can be produced in any length.
The mesh then moves to the finishing area where the wire stainless steel edge strands and crimp rods are meticulously hand-trimmed with power shears to prepare the woven metal for a welding process that results in a uniform edge. Because of the mesh variations and specificity required, this process cannot be done with a machine and can take several days, depending on the project’s size.
The mesh is moved in rolls by forklift to a bullpen area where it is unrolled and placed between two drums in a long, uniform span. A craftsman—who must be a certified welder with a technical degree—then welds each spiral and crimp rod together with a torch to create a smooth, permanent finish. Thousands of feet can be manufactured each day.
While the mesh is being woven and finished, the fabrication group builds the custom attachment systems used to mount the metal mesh on a building. These systems are engineered and built in-house based on structural and weight loads, and account for wind and ice. The two most common applications are metal fabric (flexible mesh) held in tension and panelized systems, which are more common with rigid mesh.
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