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Wire gauze is a variety of scientific laboratory equipment that is used primarily in conjunction with other equipment, most often as a support structure and heat diffuser. Several varieties are available on the market for different specific applications. This material has other applications outside of the laboratory, in areas of industry, home improvement, and arts and crafts.
Two main varieties of metallic gauze are available. The more common variety consists simply of a net like mesh of interconnected strands of wire. A second type is made of a composite material, and consists of wire strands with ceramic interior cores. Both varieties are produced from many different gauges of wire and with an array of different spacing patterns and sizes in the metal mesh.
In a scientific setting, wire mesh is most commonly used to facilitate even heat transfer. The metal and ceramic in metallic gauze transmit heat very evenly and efficiently. As a result of this, a beaker placed over a Bunsen burner and either placed on or wrapped in wire gauze will absorb heat more evenly and effectively than a beaker held over a naked flame. This property is especially useful when managing complicated or delicate reactions, in which very precise and even heating is crucial to the successful maintenance of the desired chemical reaction.
The ability of wire gauze to spread heat out evenly has other uses, as well. For decades, miners relied on safety lamps protected by a layer of wire gauze. The very fine wire mesh allowed air to flow in and feed the flame of the lamp, but diffused the heat from the flame, preventing explosive mine gases from catching fire.
This type of metallic mesh has other applications as well. Rigid metal gauze is useful as a filter in many different settings. Wire mesh is used to trap sediment from plumbing lines. Lint filters in common household dryers employ a version of wire gauze. Scientists can use wire gauze to filter the products of chemical reactions, straining out sediment or other reaction products.
Metallic gauze is a sturdy and flexible material and can be used as the base for various arts and crafts projects as well. A fine wire mesh is useful in plaster formation and casting, and larger versions of wire gauze are often used in construction projects. Chain-link fencing is essentially wire gauze on a very large, very coarse scale.