Cutting Expanded And Perforated Metal
In the last couple of blogs we dealt with cutting equipment that you will likely need to set up shop. However there are some things that are difficult to cut no matter what equipment you have. One such item is cutting expanded metal. Another one is its cousin, perforated metal. Both require patience and just the right piece of equipment to cut. The nature of expanded and perforated metal with it’s patterns of voids and solid spaces make it difficult on saw teeth because of the tendency of saw teeth to “grab” and jerk the metal and shell out the saw teeth in the process. If it doesn't shell out teeth, it may completely stall the blade in the process. Abrasive cutting typically works fine. As we discussed with the angle grinder, a small cutting blade will make efficient work of thin expanded metal. One issue though is that cutting blades are not cheap, and the edges left by the cutting wheel are razor sharp and can leave serious hanging shards of metal. Of course, an oxy fuel cutting torch can easily cut through the metal but it is slow and tedious because each intersection of metal requires preheating each time. It is slow and inefficient, but it will get the job done. Perhaps one of the best ways to cut expanded metal is with a pilot arc plasma torch. The plasma requires no preheat, and cuts are instant. The pilot arc automatically engages after each intersection is cut and the flame never goes out. This is a fast and speedy way to cut that leaves little or no shards, and doesn't create a large kerf. There are few other ways to cut expanded and perforated metal that are accessible to the average hobbyist. So, the best idea is to have a good idea of what your budget is and select the cutting method that best suits it.