Wire mesh sees a lot of friction and sometimes downright abuse. Whether the mesh is used for sifting gravel or for creating a divider in machinery that's in hot environments, the mesh often ends up being exposed to environments that can ruin it quickly. Choosing a mesh that is as corrosion resistant as possible requires some thought because you need to know what the mesh is likely to encounter to best guard against rust and other forms of corrosion.
Choose Your Alloy Carefully
First, be very careful about which alloy you choose. You're not buying just metal wire mesh; you're buying metal wire mesh made of an alloy whose components were chosen to give the mesh specific properties. For example, if rust is your main concern, stainless steel mesh is best as that alloy has some very strong anti-rust properties, namely the formation of an oxidized surface layer that resists the formation of rust.
If you choose an alloy that doesn't have the right properties or that has those properties in a weakened form, then you risk the mesh corroding quickly and requiring repair or replacement. Remember that being corrosion resistant does not mean that no corrosion will ever happen, so it's doubly important that you choose an alloy that is as specific to your needs as possible.
Careful With Cleaning Materials
Always be careful when cleaning the mesh because cleaning materials can damage the surface of an alloy in microscopic amounts. That might not sound like much, but the little scratch you can't really see can be enough to breach that corrosion-resistant surface and allow some decay to start. For example, with stainless steel, a very small nick might not do much at first, but over time and with other scratches and nicks forming every time you clean the mesh, water can make contact with the steel inside, allowing rust to form.
Do Clean It Before Use
That all being said, you should still ensure the mesh is clean before you use it. During manufacturing, the metal can come in contact with iron tools that leave very small amounts of iron residue behind. Pure iron is not resistant to corrosion like rust at all, and if it is on the mesh you then end up with spots of powdery orange rust. Do your best to clean each part of the mesh carefully and gently, but thoroughly.
Mesh is available in several alloys, not just stainless steel. Talk to manufacturers about the specific properties of each alloy so you can find the one that most closely matches your needs. For more information about wire mesh, contact a company like Midwestern Industries Inc.