What Size Mesh should I use?

Things to consider when selecting a wire mesh for an application:

  • Opening Size: This is the approximate size of the square hole between the mesh wires.  The opening size should be slightly smaller than the smallest part dimension.  Obviously, if the mesh opening size is bigger than the parts, the parts will poke thru or fall out.  On the other hand, if the mesh opening size is needlessly small, flow thru the basket will be diminished.
  • Open Space Percentage: Wire mesh is used to keep something on one side while letting something else flow thru.  Open Percentage measures the portion  of surface area that is open, not blocked by the wires.  The higher the Open Percentage, the better the flow.  In general, wire mesh is more open that perforate metal for the same opening size (because the wires between the holes are thinner than the web in perforated metal)
  • Wire Mesh Size Designations:   Wire Mesh is designated by a “Mesh Number” (number of wires per inch) and a “Wire Diameter” (the diameter of each wire). The opening size is approximately 1/(Mesh Number) minus (Wire Diameter).
    • Design Effects of Mesh Number (wires per inch): The Mesh Number describes how close the wires are to each other.  A higher Mesh Number means the wires are tighter together, the Opening Size is smaller and the Open Percentage is lower (assuming the same wire diameter).  Tightly spaced wires (higher Mesh Number) using large diameter wires creates a mesh that is extremely rigid and heavy, but expensive and difficult to work with.    The opposite is also not desirable.  Widely spaced wires (lower Mesh Number) using small diameter wires creates a mesh that can be difficult to work with because it’s too flimsy and the wires shift within the weave.
    • Design Effects of Wire Diameter: The diameter of the wire used in the mesh contributes to the strength, rigidity, and weight of the mesh.  Large diameter wires (over 0.080″) make very strong mesh, but can make a basket very heavy.  Smaller diameter wires (under 0.020″) are light and very easy to work with, but can tear easily if parts are heavy with sharp corners or points.
  • Selecting a Mesh Size: A good rule is to start by looking for an Opening Size that will properly contain your parts, then search for the largest Open Percentage near or slightly smaller than that opening size, keeping an eye on the wire diameters of the mesh (larger is stronger but heavier)
  • Too many Options?   There literally an infinite combination of mesh sizes and wire diameters that could be created.  For simplicity, the wire mesh industry has developed some meshes as “standard sizes”, making these readily available. This is still a huge list of possible combinations of mesh numbers and wire diameters, so we have narrowed our list if “standard sizes” down a bit farther.  The meshes shown below are our most commonly used meshes, representing a good range of strength, weight, opening sizes, and open percentages. (Images shown in Descending Opening Size)