A wire grid, also referred to as a wire grid panel, is a framework of crisscrossed horizontal and vertical wires. Wire grids are very similar to both metal gratings and wire mesh; however, they are on a much larger scale than wire mesh and are formed from wire rather than metal bars as is typical with grating.
Wire grids are useful for a wide range of applications, in industries such as retail, residential, industrial manufacturing and entertainment.
Specific applications of wire grids include point of purchase (POP) displays, lawn and garden accessories, machine guards, shelving and overhead storage systems, walking surfaces that allow safe access to lighting in theaters, wire grid polarizers and wire grid resistors.
Wire grid polarizers are the simplest form of absorptive polarizer, meaning that the grid produces polarized light because of unwanted polarization states that it absorbed during the polarization process. Wire grid resistors are electrical devices that limit current within a circuit. Also referred to as wire-wound resistors, wire grid resistors are used in high-current industrial applications.
Wire grids can be fabricated through a couple of different wire forming processes. One of the more common methods would be through the use of a solid metal frame, which can be a number of different shapes including square, rectangular and trapezoidal.
To form the wire grid, metal wire is woven onto the frame in an over and under pattern in order to create a grid that is very similar in style to wire mesh. Another method of fabricating wire grid is through the use of various welding techniques.
There are two main types of welding used are types of spot welding: metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG). The MIG welding process involves the use of electricity from a continuous wire feed in order to melt and join pieces of wire together, while utilizing an inert gas to ensure that the weld is protected from any contamination.
The TIG welding process is similar, but more complex. This process involves the use of a non-consumable electrode formed from tungsten, a shielding inert gas and, at times, a filler material.
Some advantages of TIG welding include a stable arc and exceptional weld, while disadvantages are the requirement of significant operator skill and the low speeds of the process. A welded wire grid is much more like a grating, and typically offers a fairly large improvement in strength over woven wire grids.