Netting is an open-meshed material used to protect, filter, or restrict. Netting products range from extremely fine fibre mesh to industrial-grade material netting. Nets are most commonly used for protection and restriction. For example, some industrial netting is used to provide an open but secure barrier against flying or falling objects, debris, or insects. Netting may also be used to form temporary fences at construction sites or on sports fields. Containment or cargo netting is used on trucks and flatbed rail cars to protect and contain loads during transport.
Base construction is an important selection consideration for netting products, as it determines the way a net will function. Netting can be made by perforating a sheet, weaving metal wire or synthetic fibres, photochemical etching, extrusion, or electroforming.
- Perforation incorporates punching holes or shapes in a metal sheet to create a netting mesh. Because it is based off of a metal sheet, usually steel or stainless steel, perforated netting is appropriate for high strength applications.
- Weaving is a process where metal wire or fibres are interlaced to form a mesh or cloth. The threads which run lengthways are called the warp and the threads which run across from side to side are the weft or filling. The strength of a weave depends on the fibre or wire material and the type of weave pattern used.
- Photochemical etching, also known as chemical milling, is the process of using acids, bases, or other chemicals to dissolve materials such as metals into a specific shape or part. The etching process has a number of advantages, including no mechanical stresses built into the product, no burns or rough edges, and unaltered material properties.
- Extrusion is a high volume manufacturing process in which raw material is melted and formed into a continuous profile. The process is usually performed with a plastic or polymeric material. Extrusions offers high production stability, but attributes such as strand diameter and material thickness tend to vary more than other construction processes.
- Electroforming is a metal forming process that forms thin parts through the electroplating process. The part is produced by plating a metal skin onto a base form, known as a mandrel, which is removed after plating. Some of the benefits of electroforming include repeatability of aperture dimensions and location, shape and smoothness of aperture walls, low surface tension, and smooth surface finish.
Materials of Construction
It may be important to select netting based on the materials used in its construction, depending on the demands and specifics of the application. Material selection determines a net's strength, chemical and corrosion resistance, hardness, and electrical conductivity. Materials can be classified as metals, plastics, natural fibres, or other unique materials.
- Plastics and polymers include a wide range of synthetic and semi-synthetic solids, and are the most common materials used to construct netting. Two classifications of plastics are thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers. Thermoplastics do not undergo chemical change when heated and can be moulded again. Thermosets stay solid after taking shape initially.
- Metals and metal alloys tend to be strong and durable materials, and have the ability to be deformed under stress without breaking or cleaving. Metals are used for more rigid types of netting, and include alloys of steel, stainless steel, nickel, aluminium, brass, and copper.
- Natural fibres are softer, naturally occurring fibrous materials. They include cotton, hemp, and silk. Strands from these materials are woven to create more durable wires and ropes. Natural fibres are used to make some more flexible and fine types of netting, but are less suitable for applications requiring higher strength.
- Fiberglass is a unique material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibres of glass. It is lightweight, extremely strong, and robust material. Its bulk strength and weight properties are also very favourable when compared to most metals, but it can also be more expensive. Fiberglass netting tends to be more opaque than other types, allowing for greater visibility and light allowance.
Certain types of netting are predesigned for specific applications, and can be selected based on the application needs of the buyer. Applications for netting include:
- Plant separation and plant protection products for lawn, garden, and nursery use
- Protecting crops, trees, and plants from insects
- Blocking access to rooftop nesting areas
- Protection in sporting environments like baseball, golf and hockey
In scrap yards, warehouses, and other industrial and commercial environments, products that can withstand sharp objects and heavy loads are required. For example, scrap metal dealers use strong, durable plastic netting to contain loose metal parts that are transported by truck or rail.
Netting may be used in animal protection, aquaculture, filtration, food processing, and high-temperature applications. Bird netting and bat house netting are used in environmental conservation projects. Aquaculture nets are used to protect or catch marine life such as fish, shrimp, and oysters. Warehouse safety nets are designed to protect people and products, and to prevent damage caused by falling objects. Filtration netting is used to filter and separate different size materials.
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