3 tips for fixing your modular handrail to concrete.

The Meshstore guide to concrete anchors

So you've decided to build a handrail system at home. Firstly, congratulations on choosing Monowills, you've made an excellent decision. Secondly, have you considered how you'll be installing it?

When it comes to concrete anchoring, there are a few different methods you can choose from. Each has benefits and drawbacks, so you'll need to figure out the best method for you.

Before we take a look at the three key methods of anchoring, where they work best, and what to avoid during installation, there are two things you need to consider. The first is your safety gear, since you may be dealing with some abrasive materials and strong chemicals, be sure to have your gloves, goggles and boots on hand. Secondly, there are technical standards that need to be met. While the Monowills range is designed for compliance, requirements for anchor systems are outlined in SA TS 101. For more information, you should refer to this document from Standards Australia.

Now, the part you came for:

1. Cast-in anchors

Cast-in anchors will typically require the most work of the three options, but if you're undertaking a larger project and will be pouring new concrete on which to base your handrail system, cast-in could be the way for you. Now, there are two key methods through which this can be done.

The first involves casting your anchor bolts into the concrete. In this scenario, you should use L or J bolts to prevent pullout. Once your concrete has cured, you'll be left with bolts protruding from the concrete surface that you can then attach the baseplate of your stanchions. In this application, you would need to ensure your cast-in anchors were spaced exactly right.

The second method for cast-in anchors is to use a channel. These are typically used in large scale construction where the anchors need to handle tremendous loads. Think of this as a small, metal trough with a lip on the inside. This needs to be installed so that the top of the channel is flush with the surface of your concrete, running parallel to your handrail balustrades. Once the concrete has set, you can slide T-bolts into the channel, and from there, attach them to the stanchion baseplates. The benefit here is you only need to align one axis.

As previously stated, this application is really only on the cards if you're putting in new concrete at the same time as your handrail. You'll need to be a little more precise with placing the anchors, but the benefit is that cast-in anchors perform extremely well.

How do you anchor a modular handrail?Expansion anchors make post-installed anchors the most straightforward choice.

2. Post-installed mechanical/expansion anchors

The biggest drawcard for this type of anchoring solution is that it's post-installed, meaning this is a sound anchoring method for quick installation of a handrail system into existing concrete. Mechanical, or expansion, anchors are those that expand when the torque is adjusted.

When you're installing a handrail, this is likely the most straightforward method. It starts with lining up where your base plates will be and drilling the appropriate holes. Depending on the size and nature of your handrail, you may even be able to assemble the whole system and "drop" it into place. When drilling concrete, you'll get the best performance (and least resistance) out of a hammer drill. You should also be mindful that there may be rebar or other embedded objects in the concrete. Often, carbide headed drill bits can cut through rebar, but it might be worth investing in a diamond drill bit.

Once you've drilled the holes, they must, and this bears repeating, they absolutely MUST be cleaned out properly. Failure to do so means that you'll be expanding the anchor to connect with loose dust, which is a pretty great way to ensure the anchor will pull out under strain. Once you've cleaned the holes, you only need to insert the anchors through the stanchion base plate and apply the recommended torque.

This method is fairly easy to do and offers a high level of strength. You might need to hire some tools, but the payoff is a huge amount of time saved.

How to drill holes for modular handrail installation.A hammer drill is going to make installation much, much easier.

3. Chemical anchors

Chemical anchors work in a very similar way to a post-installed mechanical anchor. The difference being, instead of using an expansion anchor and adjusting the torque, you can use standard anchor rods (or screws) which fix themselves in the concrete via the injection of a chemical adhesive.

You'll follow all the steps outlined above, right up to the step where you thoroughly clean all dust out of the hole (do not skip. Ever). If possible, we recommend using a roughening tool to use on the holes. This will give them an even internal surface which the chemical will bond to more efficiently than a smooth surface.

Once the holes have been cleaned, you can inject your mortar into the holes. You will be able to pick up the right adhesive from your local hardware store, but make sure you check it's suitable for concrete anchors. After you've dropped your anchor rods in, give them a quick turn to ensure that the adhesive distributes evenly across the thread. From here, you only need to wait until the chemical has cured before you can anchor your base plates with the simple tightening of a nut.

There are two things you have to remember for this, and both rely on the instructions that come with your adhesive. The first, is that you should under no circumstances use less of the chemical mortar than the directions outline. The second, is that you must leave the chemical to cure as per the instructions. Chemical anchors take a little more time because of curing, however in most applications the bond strength is extremely high.

So there it is, the Meshstore guide to concrete anchors. For any further questions or concerns, speak to a member of our team.

How can wire mesh curtains be utilised in architecture and interior design?

How wire mesh curtains can liven up your space

Wire mesh curtains are an ideal architectural solution for delineating space, adding texture to an interior, or for decorative use in a facade. Locker Group's curtains are made from uniquely shaped interconnected metal threads, custom made in a variety of profiles and materials to meet the unique requirements of your project. Our curtains add a touch of modern sophistication wherever they're applied – here's how they can liven up your spaces.

How can wire mesh break up large spaces?Space delineation in the dining room of the Cremorne Hotel.

Mesh curtains make great partitions

If you have a large open space, wire mesh curtains are a fantastic way of delineating areas when the entire space isn't necessary. This can make a larger room much more intimate and add a sense of privacy. It's also a way to create private seating areas in a restaurant, cafe or bar. The great thing about using mesh curtains in this way is that they can be installed on tracks so they can be drawn or retracted, allowing you to get the best of both worlds; smaller intimate spaces as well as larger, open ones. Wire mesh curtains allow air to move freely through them, so there's no need to think about ventilation if you're using them as permanent partitions or screens

How can wire mesh curtains add texture to a space?An internal screen adds texture at Ausnet Victoria.

Mesh curtains add texture

Locker Group produce mesh curtains in an extensive range of profiles and they are available in stainless steel, brass or aluminium. This means you have quite a few options for how the curtains will look and feel. Mesh curtain segments can be used in two dimensional surfaces to add a little bit of texture to an interior design scheme, and can be created for use in three dimensional structures as well.

Wire mesh curtains be used to create striking facades.Wire mesh curtains used in the stunning facade of Monash Library Caulfield.

Mesh curtains bring style and function to facades

Using wire mesh curtains in your building facade can create striking visuals and make a grand impression on those who come into contact with it. But there are additional reasons why this is a fantastic material for facades. The open profile of wire mesh curtains limits visibility, providing privacy, though at the same time our curtains do allow light to pass through. Acting as a screen against the glare of the sun while still allowing the passage of natural light, these curtains give a building's occupants the best of both worlds.

We've established that wire mesh curtains can contribute to the aesthetic of a building or space, but once you've seen some of the applications, you'll understand that this is a product that speaks for itself. For more information about wire mesh curtains, get in contact with us today.

Check out some of our completed projects.
Locker Group produced perforated zinc sheets for Monash University's new Learning and Education building at the Clayton campus.

Case study: Monash University Clayton

The new Learning and Teaching building at the Clayton campus of Monash University was recently completed. John Wardle Architects designed the building and utilised perforated metal products from Locker Group to create the facade. The folded perforated metal facade covers all sides of this four-storey building and acts as a sunshade without hindering visibility from the inside out. It was no small project, and there were a number of hurdles on the way to completing this truly stunning project.

What were the requirements of this project?

Monash University made a commitment to sustainability, and implemented goals to reduce its carbon footprint. Since their buildings make up an approximate 80 per cent of their emissions, sustainability was a priority for Monash University in constructing the Clayton campus. The zinc sheets that make up the facade played into this. Zinc is easy to recycle, as it retains its integrity and performance properties so it can be reused. The International Zinc Association states that 95 per cent of zinc products used in buildings are recycled.

The facility is truly state of the art. With collaborative and unconventional learning spaces throughout, the campus reflects new ways of approaching education. As a cutting-edge education facility, it was important that the facade of the building was as unique as the spaces inside. This is why Monash University partnered with the award-winning John Wardle Architects, who in turn utilised products from Locker Group's extensive portfolio to give the building its flair.

How does the building's facade reflect that which is inside?The building needed to be as unique on the outside as it is inside.

Which Locker Group products were used?

While Locker Group supplied perforated sheets for the entire facade, it's not actually a single uniform product the entire way around. The large sheets covering the north, east and west sides of the building had three different perforation patterns per sheet. For the parts of the facade that cover windows, a profile with 50 per cent open area was used. Often, smaller profiles can play with your eyes, and so the chosen profile was to allow occupants of the building to see clearly out the windows. The other profiles used on these sheets had a much lower open area, in order to act as weather shielding. The south facing side of the building has one uniform perforation pattern.

The sheets are made of 99.9% pure zinc. As a natural material, zinc requires minimal maintenance over time due to the self-protective patina that forms over the metal to maintain surface integrity. Zinc has a tendency to age gracefully, which combined with its strength, is why it has been a popular roofing material in Europe for over 150 years.

What challenges were faced in producing these perforated metal sheets?Manufacturing the perforated metal sheets for the facade was something of a challenge.

What were the challenges in producing these sheets?

Locker Group's manufacturing team had to get creative in producing the zinc sheets. The facade is approximately 11 metres tall, and the architects wanted as little joinery and steelwork as possible. We were able to produce sheets large enough that only two would be required to span the height of the facade.

In order to keep the steelwork down, these were fixed to three beams running perpendicular to the sheets, and each sheet was fixed only at the top and bottom. Since zinc is fairly lightweight, this was more than sufficient support to hold the panels in place. Since they were being folded in a unique way, they became more rigid, meaning we could make them longer and minimise the steelwork as per the designers preference.

To give you an idea of the scale of this facade, which envelops the building, approximately 1,552 panels were used, which is equal to about 95 tonnes of metal. The perforated zinc panels were folded in such a way that they spanned approximately 8.5 thousand square metres on a surface only 4.5 thousand square metres in size.

The zinc used in this perforated metal facade is 90 per cent recycled.The finished product is simply stunning to behold.

The finished result

The completed project is a facade that really catches the eye. You might be impressed by our photos, but they in no way compare to how grand this building looks when you stand in front of it. The zinc is simply beautiful, and it will look better and better over time, offering something special and unique to every new generation of students and educators that use it. Locker Group is proud to have supplied the materials that give the building's exterior its character. Although manufacturing the sheets wasn't easy, we can find the solutions necessary to deliver our clients metal products that stand up on the world stage.

Whatever it is you need to give your next project a unique visual character without sacrificing functionality, Locker Group has the expertise to make it happen. For more information, contact us now, or check out more of our work via the link below.

Click here to see more of our recent work.
How to keep this monster out of the kitchen plus more great tips from Meshstore!

3 easy solutions you didn’t know you could find at Meshstore

You're likely already aware that Meshstore supply perforated and expanded metal sheets for fencing and screening, walkways and flooring, as well as decorative architectural pieces..However, the true number of applications for our products are really only limited by your imagination.

We've talked about some interesting uses for leftover products before, but did you know there are multiple instant solutions from Meshstore you've never even considered? Here are three that spring to mind immediately.

1. Gripspan planks for motorcycle or scooter ramps

If you ride, chances are you've experienced a mysterious breakdown before. Your mind is going through the motions: Why won't it start? What did I do last time this happened? Who do I know with a ute? Being stuck away from home with a broken down bike and no tools is a huge pain. You want to get it home, your mate has a ute, but you're stuck with the issue of having to get the bike onto the tray in the first place.

The issue isn't limited to this situation solely, you may also have a workbench and need to get your bike or scooter up there from time to time to do some maintenance. Whatever the reason, you need a bike ramp that's strong enough to hold the weight and has enough tread for the tires to grab on to. Look no further. Our Gripspan planks weren't made for this specific reason, but given how aptly they suit the purpose, they might as well have been.

2. Perforated metal sheets for speaker grills

Whether you're sprucing up your home hi-fi system, adding a personal touch to a guitar or bass cabinet, or pimping your ride Mad Max style, perforated metal sheets make awesome speaker grills. Science recently confirmed that the cooler your speakers look, the better they sound. Though it's not all about sound.

The cone of your speaker is the most important, and also the most easily-damaged component of a speaker cabinet. While the difference in sound quality between a cloth and a metal speaker grill is generally imperceptible to humans, the metal is a lot sturdier. This ultimately means that when you're rocking out you are less likely to damage the speaker with a stray kick. And don't even dare claim you don't rock out!

3. Expanded and woven mesh for dog gates

While dog-gate sounds like the cutest conspiracy theory of all time, it is in fact a real thing that people need. Not all dogs are outside dogs. Regardless, whipping up a dog gate is no difficult task. It's just a matter of cutting your wire mesh to the appropriate width and fixing a latch – adding a frame like the picture above is optional. Using a gate like this means you can keep your canine pal away from the bedroom, kitchen or otherwise out of bounds areas of your house.

If the doors inside your home are a uniform size, you can move the gate around as required. A dog gate is much better solution that simply closing a door because it allows you to continue the conversation you're having with your dog. And let's face it, 90 per cent of dog ownership is one-sided conversations.

Meshstore is your go to for perforated and expanded metal, woven and welded wire mesh, and modular handrail systems, no matter what you're planning on using them for. Swing by a branch today to see our range.

Looking for an industrial flooring material that checks all the boxes of compliance?

6 reasons Gripspan is the ultimate industrial flooring solution

Locker Group's Gripspan planking is designed for use in industrial flooring. We've weighed up all the requirements of flooring solutions and developed Gripspan to exceed the necessities of flooring in industrial applications, making it the greatest solution on the market. Here are six reasons why.

1. It features a strong grip

A strong grip is absolutely essential to an industrial flooring solution. Floors with a grippy tread is far more effective in reducing slips than what slip resistant footwear is. Gripspan comes in a number of profiles, from slotted dimple to standard or serrated diamond treads. These profiles are extremely efficient in preventing slips, trips and other mishaps, and don't require any additional treatment or coating to improve slip resistance.

2. Gripspan drains well

The very nature of expanded metal means that no pooling of liquids can occur. Not only does it drain extremely well, but liquids don't affect the strong grip of the tread patterns. This means that Gripspan is just as at home in external or rooftop applications as it is in drier conditions.

Looking for a strong, safe, and cheap industrial flooring solution?Gripspan in serrated diamond profile.

3. Available in custom lengths

Because Gripspan is roll formed, it can be supplied in any length. It's also capable of withstanding high loads, so it's safe to use single planks for lengthy spans. Customisable lengths also means fewer joints, a reduction in the number of support frames as well as easier installation.

4. Gripspan is lightweight

High load capacity and custom lengths makes Gripspan a versatile flooring solution – however, the fact that it's also lightweight adds another point towards hassle-free installation. Gripspan can be lifted and manoeuvred easily by two people and as such, installation is easy and fast even in traditionally difficult to access areas.

Gripspan is a strong, safe and cost effective solution for industrial flooring.Gripspan's slotted dimple profile.

5. Easy compliance

Gripspan meets all of the compliance standards of AS1657 when used to roof access walkways, platforms, mezzanine floors and stair treads. It's been tested according to the stringent regulations for load capacity and grip. Gripspan is also perfectly suited to applications where access is required beneath the platform, as the tighter profile prevents objects from falling through. Many other flooring solutions have to rely on a protective barrier fixed beneath the platform, but with Gripspan, you're hitting these compliance standards automatically.

6. Low maintenance

Gripspan comes in aluminium or steel, both non-porous materials which means they won't harbour grime or bacteria. The planks are easy to clean, and once fixed, stay fixed, meaning there won't be additional issues to address over time.

Strong, safe and cost-effective, there's no better material for industrial flooring, walkways and access applications. To find out more about Gripspan, check out our brochure, or get in contact below.

Locker Group has all your needs for perforated and expanded metal.
What does your perforated metal profile say about you?

The unique characteristics of perforated metals

Locker Group has over 60 years experience in the business of manufacturing perforated metal. We produce a huge range of perforated profiles, and each has its own unique, distinctive character. But what are the characteristics that make each product unique? It's not just a shape, it's a personality, so without further adieu, here is what each profile has to say for itself.

Perforated metal profile: Champagne

Champagne

Champagne is literally the life of the party, but not in an obnoxious way. Interesting, witty, and not afraid to be a little bit silly, Champagne is naturally charismatic and turns heads without even trying. It's said that Champagne once performed karaoke for 36 straight hours and only stopped because there were no songs left. Champagne might not be for everyone, but no one can deny its magnitude.

Perforated metal profile: Aztec

Aztec

While Aztec has its fair share of academic credibility, it certainly doesn't think it's better than you. Well-read, well-traveled, and concerned for the wellbeing of all living things, the uninitiated may refer to Aztec as a "hippy" though in truth it's a hard-working profile that is proactive about bringing about positive change in the world. Fun fact: Aztec is fluent in three languages and continues to appear as a guest lecturer at Universities around the world.

Perforated metal profile: Sheer 2800 / Hexagon

Sheer 2800

Sheer 2800 (or Hexagon to its friends) is smart and creative, like a scientist with a flair for experimentation. Obsessed with the complex geometric relationships of living cells*, Hexagon is a leader in its field and tends to garner respect from all corners. Though it seems fairly simple at first, Hexagon is more impressive every time you look at it and even its detractors will admit there is something intrinsically fascinating about this profile.

*We're not sure what this means either, you'll have to pick up Hexagon's latest book.

Perforated metal profile: Ribbon

Ribbon

Ribbon is often the shyest of the profiles, but when it comes out of its shell you'd be surprised by how kooky and fun this profile can be. Ribbon tends to view the world through the eyes of a child, and when you interact with it, this tendency sometimes rubs off – leaving you to enjoy a wondrous world of colour and shape. Ribbon enjoys play-doh, fire-engines, and spaghetti.

Perforated metal profile: Niche

Niche 250

Not a lot is known about the profile that is Niche. Some say it was created in a small town on the SA/NSW border in the late 1970s, others say that Niche has simply always been. Niche is a night-dweller with a serious composure, often preferring its own company to that of others. Highly motivated and darkly attractive, rumours persist that Niche is either a sith lord or a vampire. Attempts to confirm either rumour have been met only with maniacal laughter.

Perforated metal profile: Herringbone

Herringbone 19

Remember the good old days? Herringbone certainly does. By no means a simple profile, Herringbone has a certain depth and elegance all its own. It would be wrong to call Herringbone a relic, since this is a modern profile in a changing world. Quietly wise, Herringbone has seen it all but won't stop smiling – it knows that best of times is still to come. Herringbone was a confidante of Ernest Hemingway and supposedly taught Stephen Fry everything that he knows.

So, which one of these profiles resonates best with you? Contact Locker Group today for more information.

Check out some of the work we've done in the past.
Conveyor belts are essential to the food industry, but which is best - plastic or metal?

4 benefits of using metal belting in food manufacturing

Food manufacturing relies heavily on conveyor belt systems. Not simply because it's far more efficient than manual labour, but because it's considerably cheaper in the long run. Food manufacturing has to stand up to extremely stringent regulations, and processes differ greatly between different food items.

What works for raw meats won't work for baked goods, so it's important to invest in the right system. Conveyor belts can be made of numerous materials, but we believe that metal is the ideal option for food manufacturing. Here's why.

1) Metal conveyor belts easily meet sanitation requirements

A recall is an enormous headache for those in the food manufacturing industry. Not only can it be extremely expensive, it can also do irreparable damage to a manufacturer's reputation. Metal belts are capable of withstanding the extremely high temperatures and pressure required for sanitation. An additional benefit to metal belts is that they are nonporous. Plastic belts are easily chipped and scratched which can become ideal locations for hazardous chemicals or bacteria.

Is a metal conveyor belt ideal for bread?Metal conveyor belts are perfect for food applications, they can easily manage any temperature and are easy to sanitise.

2) Metal conveyor belts can withstand extreme temperature variation

Food processing will require cooking or cooling, and metal excels in both of these areas.

In addition to sanitation, the heat resilience of metal gets extra points for functionality. Some applications of food processing will require cooking or cooling, and metal excels in both of these areas. A thermal expansion coefficient dictates how a material can expand, contract or otherwise change shape with temperature fluctuations. Most metals have a fairly low coefficient, meaning they retain heat when subjected to temperature change. Plastic can easily melt, warp or simply break during processes that metal will roll through easily.

3) Metal conveyor belts are less environmentally taxing

While virtually no manufacturing operation is without a carbon footprint, plastic is far more taxing on the environment to produce. Plastics are made from petroleum, which isn't exactly the poster child for sustainability. While the production of metal does result in pollutants, the sector has made strides in recent years.

4) Metal conveyor belts offer great flexibility

We don't literally mean the ability to flex, but rather, there is a metal solution for every pain point in food manufacturing. Metal conveyor belts generally have a greater ratio of open area which means they are ideal for baking, cooking, or any application where drainage is important. Furthermore, metal belts can be used effectively in conveyors with singular or multiple tight turns, which reduces the need for manual transferral to another belt.

Locker Group manufactures conveyor belts to any width or length, capable of withstanding temperatures between -250 and 1200 degrees celsius. Our belts are assembled in modules to simplify the maintenance process. Whatever you're cooking, Locker Group has the belt for you.

Get in contact with Locker Group today
Painting your metal products is much easier than you might think, as long as you do the right prep.

How to paint your metal products

 

We’ve talked about the myriad of uses for welded or woven wire mesh and perforated or expanded metal before, but what if you need to paint these materials? It can add a new dimension to a completed project, whether making them stand out from, or to more cohesively fit in with, an environment. Thankfully, painting your metal products isn’t difficult, but there are a few things you should know going in.

Preparation

To start with you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What kind of metal are you painting?
  • How does this metal need to be prepped for paint?
  • What are the environmental conditions the paint will need to withstand?

These questions will help you determine what kind of coating you need to use, and what the surface will need before you approach it.

Ferrous metals are those that contain (or are derived) from iron. These materials are far more susceptible to rust, and will begin to do so as soon as they are in contact with moisture. The first thing you should do with ferrous metals is remove any existing rust. Even if your sheet is brand new, it’s worth brushing or sanding the surface once over as a precaution.

Aluminium and galvanised metal will require a thorough wash and rinse to remove oil, dirt, and in the case of galvanised metal, zinc chromate leftover from the galvanising process.

Priming

Ferrous metals need to be primed as soon as you’ve prepped the surface. Because it’s so easy for these materials to rust, it’s best to reduce the time they are exposed to moisture. You’ll need to use a rust-inhibiting primer here, and to stay on the safe side it’s recommended you do two coats. For galvanised metal you should use a corrosion-inhibiting primer because it’s less susceptible to rust.

Aluminium (generally) falls into two camps. If it’s anodised, you’ll only need to make sure it’s clean before painting. If it’s not anodised, you’ll want to make sure any oxidation is removed. From there, you can treat it as essentially ferrous- it must be primed as soon as possible to prevent the surface from being corrupted.

Painting

In terms of top coat, the best bet is to use an exterior latex acrylic paint. This is not the only paint that can be used, but it’s likely it will suit the application of metal quite well, and will last longer than other types. It should be available in either a spray can or in larger quantities if you’d prefer a brush or roller. It’s recommended you use a spray for more complex or detailed profiles.

Direct-To-Metal (DTM) coatings are also available, which basically mix the primer in with the topcoat for direct application. This can work well, but make sure you check that the DTM you’re using will work for your application (both the type of metal and the conditions it will face).

For more information about perforated or expanded metal and woven or welded wire mesh, get in touch with the team at Meshstore today.

Meshstore's quick guide to sheet metal and wire mesh cutting tools.

What are the best tools for cutting wire mesh?

At Meshstore we sell most of our metal sheets in pre-cut sizes. Most of you will know however, that some jobs require precision. Whether you're trimming a few millimetres off the side or cutting custom shapes, you need the right tools for the job. Certain methods can leave abrasive burrs or distortion. 

Here is Meshstore's quick guide to cutting your perforated metal sheets.

What are the variables?

Before going any further we need to understand the variables. If you've just Googled "how to cut metal sheets" we're sorry to say there's more to it than that. Metal sheets aren't created equally, so you need to have a few more specifics to figure out the way forward.

  • Firstly, what is the nature and profile of this sheet? Is it perforated or expanded metal? Is it wire mesh? There are significantly different methods for each.
  • Next, how thick is this sheet? Thinner materials will be easier to cut. What kind of metal are we talking about? Steel is typically harder than aluminium, so this will also need to be considered.
  • Finally, think about your application. Will burrs be dangerous? Does it need to look tidy? Are there any other application specific considerations to make?

What are the best tools to use?

While punch presses, lasers and plasma cutters typically achieve the greatest result (simultaneously sounding rather cool), these resources aren't exactly readily available. Here are our alternative recommendations:

Snips – These are fairly common and cheap, hobbyists may already have a pair and contractors certainly will. Snips are great for cutting thin sheets and wire mesh and are even capable of delicate curves, but you may run into difficulty at lower gauges, particularly if the metal is quite hard. Snips may leave burrs.

Hacksaw – Like snips, chances are most DIYers will already have a hacksaw. Great for thicker gauges that snips can't manage, but harder metals can chew up blades fairly easily. It's very hard to get curved shapes with a hacksaw and the finish will largely depend on the blade you use.

Angle grinder – Powered and portable, an angle grinder can tackle much thicker gauges. An experienced hand may be able to get good curved results, however this might be trickier if you've not used one before. Fast and efficient with a relatively clean cut.

Power shears – Small, powered shears take small bites out of the metal as you manoeuvre the tool across your intended path. They require a little bit of elbow grease to steer properly, but with a bit of practise you can cut complex shapes with power shears. They will often leave a serrated edge that will need to be handled with care. Power shears and angle grinders are both available at your local hardware store.

There are also a number of benchtop cutting tools for more those handling sheet metal and wire mesh more frequently, but that is a matter for another day. Meshstore's range of wire mesh, perforated and expanded metals are suitable for projects of all types. To find out more, pop into a branch today.

Can Australia boost growth in the manufacturing sector?

Is Australia seeing a manufacturing resurgence?

There's a lot of contention as to the current state of manufacturing in Australia. Economists, industry professionals and commentators can't seem to agree on whether manufacturing in Australia is dead in the dirt or that the industry can adapt and overcome the issues that face it.

While we certainly don't claim to have all the answers, we believe it's possible the manufacturing industry can be rebuilt through the same Australian ingenuity that's seen us overcome adversity numerous times before, and this article will explain why. 

Australian manufacturing in the past

Before looking towards the possible futures for manufacturing in Australia, it's key to understand the reasons behind the sector's slowdown. The primary catalyst for the doomsayers was that Australia's automotive manufacturing sector began to draw operations to a close in 2014. Steadily increasing energy costs and the Aussie dollar growing in value have added additional factors of complexity to an already precarious situation.

For some context, the 1960s were the boom years for manufacturing in Australia. During that decade the manufacturing sector peaked at 25 per cent of our gross domestic product. In recent years that figure has dipped to 5.9 per cent (to March 2016, from IBISWorld).

Australian Automotive manufacturing is over, but does that mean the end of manufacturing?Though automotive manufacturing may have ceased, it doesn't mean the industry can't recover from the shortfall.

Australian manufacturing today

While the above statistic may seem fairly negative, it's important to note that slowed growth isn't the same as decline. Furthermore, Australia's GDP is over 3,000 per cent greater than it was in 1969 (though inflation has not been factored in here). The truth of the matter is that the latter half of 2017 saw a lot of fluctuation. With a PMI rating of 51.1 as of November 2017, there is still active growth in the sector even though this growth is small.

The automotive industry may have hit the brakes, turned off the ignition and let the car roll into the Pacific, but there is still enough demand in other industries to keep us moving forward. Materials for apartment and public infrastructure construction are going strong; defence, mining and agricultural equipment continue at pace; renewables and utilities are also still in demand. When framed in this manner, there is no reason to predict The End.

Future

So what does the future hold for Australian manufacturing? 

One thing we do know is that there is a shift coming. Small to medium enterprises make up 97 per cent of Australian businesses, and research from CSIRO suggests a growing demand for more expensive bespoke products over cheaper, mass produced goods. If the majority of Aussie businesses are addressing increasingly niche markets, the concept of producing a lower volume of customised solutions becomes a more sustainable business plan. Added to the fact that Australia is a hotbed for creative tech startups, the possibilities for manufacturing growth in the coming years are numerous and exciting.

Is Australia seeing a manufacturing resurgence? Maybe not today, but ask us again tomorrow.

Locker Group is your go-to for metal industrial supplies, from flooring to railing to access materials, we have you safely covered. For more info, contact us today.

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The Sportshub at the University of Queensland is a great example of creative facade design.

First impressions count: What your facade says about you

Locker Group's range of perforated metal offers excellent materials for building facades, and make no mistake, this is one of the most important design elements of your project. Cognitive scientists have proved buildings can affect mood and feelings of well-being in humans, thanks to specially attuned cells in the hippocampus.

In coming years, these psychology-based insights could begin to play a major role in how cities are designed. In the meantime, it's worth considering how your building will fit, not just into its location, but into the hearts and minds of those who will interact with it.

How can building design affect people?

In his 2015 book Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life, Colin Ellard (a cognitive neuroscientist) describes an experiment he undertook in a suburb of New York's Lower East Side. Ellard walked small groups of people around a partially gentrified neighbourhood and found that his subjects were unhappy and bored when faced with modern, slab-like structures with little creativity exercised in facade design.

Furthermore, pre-eminent urbanist Jan Gehl has observed that people will increase their walking speed when passing a blank building facade. Psychologist Daniel Berlyne has stated that humans are biologically disposed to prefer locations with some architectural complexity, and are easily bored when this complexity is absent. Even brief episodes of boredom have been proven to increase levels of bodily stress hormones, according to a 2015 study from the University of Waterloo.

While this is an extremely brief example of how buildings can affect people, the implications of these studies suggest an increased need for more human-centric facade design.

Generic facades leave a lot to be desired because we humans prefer some level of complexity.Pictured: Not a whole lot, actually.

How can this be manipulated?

While certain design theories may point to individual methods for adding a human touch, there is no single guaranteed feature that will make a facade more interesting to humans. The flip side to this is there are no hard and fast rules. An architect has a lot to juggle, and a facade needs to do many things. Getting creative with a facade will lead to a greater engagement from those who use the building, and more positive feelings and associations for those who live in the area.

How perforated metal can be used in facade design

Our perforated metal can be manufactured to any specification, meaning the only limit is your imagination.  Check out our 2017 Lookbook for some amazing finished projects, using perforated metal and Locker Pic Perf, by some of Australia's greatest architects.

For more information about perforated metal in architectural contexts, contact us today.

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Here are our favourite ideas for creative uses of wire mesh and perforated metal.

Ingenious ways to recycle leftover steel panels and mesh

 

When you’re obtaining materials for a project, it’s often better to be safe than sorry. This might mean ordering a little more to make sure you’re covered should the project change slightly, or if you accidentally damage one of the sheets. But what happens if you end up with leftover wire mesh or perforated metal? There are actually a multitude of ingenious uses for leftover metal products from Meshstore – whether your unused sheets will serve a specific purpose or wind up being more of a creative exercise, here are some great ideas for excess metal.

Wire mesh

Woven wire mesh is useful for a whole lot of applications besides the ones we usually talk about, such as industrial flooring and fencing. Here are just a couple of easy ones to start with.

Wire mesh can replace trellis in your garden as material to support the growth of vines and other climbing plants. Since our wire mesh is fairly thick and sturdy, they’ll be strong enough to support grapes, cucumbers, and other heavier plant types.

 

Another interesting use we’ve seen is people using expanded wire mesh as “bulletin board” type wall hangings. The profile of the mesh can be useful for hanging keys, jewellery or even small hand tools. Creating a place to hang knick-knacks is a pretty great way to get your money’s worth out of a small or oddly shaped pieces of extra metal.

Those with artistic leanings could find interesting ways to incorporate wire mesh into their creative processes. The image above is a small sheet of mesh carefully manipulated by artist Elaine Weiner-Reed to be used as support for a plaster sculpture.

Perforated metal

Though our perforated metal sheets are ideally used as flooring, screening, balustrades and beyond, here are a few cool uses from outside the box.

If you have any old shelving in need of a spruce up, those additional sheets could put to good use as cabinet doors or sliding screens on a large shelf similarly to what is pictured above. It provides great functionality and looks amazing.

Perforated Table with A frame legs.

A post shared by Redfox & Wilcox (@redfoxandwilcoxworkshop) on

Why not reinvigorate some of your old outdoor furniture but adding a new table top? While the table and chair above are clearly specially designed, the idea would be easy enough to replicate at a more DIY level.

A post shared by Nafets Remmos (@stefan1165) on

Meshstore definitely doesn’t recommend taking your watch apart, but this time-piece from Swatch is incredibly cool, and a great example of creative use of perforated metal. Think how simply you could overhaul a wall clock to similar similar effect.

These are just a few ideas of how you can reuse extra metal product, but the true applications are limited only by your imagination. While Meshstore is more than happy to provide single sheets for creative projects, we would also understand if you find yourself adding a few extra sheets to your order to get creative this summer. For all your wire mesh and perforated metal needs, Meshstore has you covered.

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