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Why Automotive Wire Mesh is More Important than You Think

There are nearly 270 million cars and light trucks on the road today in the U.S., and each one of them uses wire mesh in some capacity. Several critical components use screen wire mesh to filter vehicle fluids, reduce emissions, increase safety and enhance esthetic appeal. While not an exhaustive list, these are just a few ways steel wire mesh helps you get from here to there.

Airbags

Since airbags became mandatory in U.S. vehicles during the late 1990s they have saved thousands of lives. These supplemental safety systems are mostly known for their explosively deployed pillows of air during a collision but are composed of three main parts.

  • Airbag - The airbag is made of a woven nylon fabric and manufactured with a heat shield coating to protect the fabric from scorching near the inflator assembly during deployment. Talcum powder or cornstarch is also used to coat the airbag to prevent it from sticking together.

  • Inflator - The inflator canister is stamped stainless steel or cast aluminum. Inside the inflator canister is a filter assembly consisting of a stainless steel wire mesh with ceramic material sandwiched in between.

  • Propellant – Air bag propellant comes in black sodium azide pellets with an oxidizer and is usually located inside the inflator canister between the filter assembly and the initiator.

screen wire mesh

Catalytic Converters

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enacted stricter regulation of exhaust emissions, catalytic converters were required starting with the 1975 model year. Since then, catalytic converters have reduced vehicle pollution and greenhouse gasses – with wire mesh at the very center of this important piece of automotive technology.

In catalytic converters, there are two different types of catalyst at work, a reduction catalyst and an oxidation catalyst. Both types consist of a ceramic structure coated with a metal catalyst, usually platinum, rhodium or palladium. A wire mesh substrate forms the core of a catalytic converter to provide a support structure and geometric surface area upon which the catalyst is applied. The idea is to create a structure that exposes the maximum surface area of catalyst to the exhaust stream while minimizing the amount of expensive catalyst required.

Wire mesh is also used in catalytic converters due to several inherent characteristics.

  • It withstands corrosion and erosion

  • It remains durable at continuously high operating temperatures and through heat spikes

  • It is resistant to very high vibrations

Filters and frames

Screen wire mesh is used extensively as automotive filter and dampening material in several different ways.

  • Radiator screens – These screens protect the radiator fins, which are easily damaged by road debris. Deformed fins create radiator hot spots, shortening component life.

  • Oil pickup and strainer - The oil pickup is a tube extending from the oil pump to the bottom of the oil pan. At one end of the pickup tube is a strainer which has a wire mesh screen for straining large particles from the oil and is positioned so all oil entering the pump from the oil pan must flow through it.

  • Transmission screens – This wire mesh filter removes particulates from the transmission fluid, keeping it out of the gear sets.

  • Muffler vibration mounts, high frequency vibration dampers, vibration damping mounts and exhaust silencer packing are other steel wire mesh applications.

steel wire mesh

In the rearview mirror

It is clear that wire mesh plays a critical role in many vehicle systems.

  • It filters necessary lubricants

  • It protects radiators and air intakes

  • It is used in airbag systems

Newark Wire, a recognized leader in the wire mesh industry, manufactures off-the-shelf and custom woven wire mesh for any and every application – including cars and trucks. It has specialized in the fabrication of wire mesh parts and assemblies for the past 105 years. Contact them today to discuss your next automotive application.