Learn the History of Perforated Metal

perforated metal

Perforated metal has a storied history that stretches across hundreds of years. With a wide variety of functions and applications, this type of metal has appeared across continents and cultures over the years, used in warfare, technology, art, and construction.

With characteristics that lend themselves both to structural and decorative uses, perforated metal is an ideal material for many types of mediums. This article will look at the history of perforated metal, from its conception and throughout history to today, as well as how they are applied in today’s world.  

What is Perforated Metal?   

Perforated metal is sheet metal with holes designed in a particular size and shape. This metal has a mesh-like look, and any aspects of the metal, such as the pattern, shape (typically circular), and size (standard size is 1mm) of the holes, can be customized. When customizing the size of the hole, the bigger the hole, the thicker the metal sheeting will have to be.

History of Perforated Metal

Early History

Some earlier examples of the technique of perforated metal was in World War II when the military used perforated steel planking to construct temporary runways and landing strips. Though the historical methods were more basic, you can see the applications being used by hand that machines do nowadays.

Perforating metal is just the evolution of early man perforating items for daily use. As primitive humans evolved, so did our methods of making tools and items of use.  Back then, a person would have had to strike the metal or material thousands of times to produce the perforations modern punch machines do in seconds. 

As civilization moved on, more metals were discovered for use in art, and the construction of homes and tools.  Many peoples, including Asians, Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans, began making coins for currency with this metal, and the coins would have a hole in the middle. The hole was handy to string the coins together and save on how much metal was used. 

Perforation would allow for decoration and design to be added within the build, adding to the armors that were to come for war and sport. In addition, it allowed for ventilation and movement.

Age of Industry

When the industrial rolling mill was introduced in the early 1600s, it revolutionized the possibilities for crafting metal and other materials. Until now, all perforated metal was made by hand.

Over the next two hundred years, sheet metal production would eventually make way for machine-punched metal. The first machines to perforate metal automatically were built in the early 1800s.

An industrialist named Eli Hendrick started to drill holes in thick plate metal, but he needed machines to ensure holes were drilled simultaneously. This machine would become the prototype for the modern metal perforating punch machine.  

These innovations were happening around the world. In the late 1800s, the UK developed a perforated metal process that would introduce the first zero-waste method of creating perforations. Patterns and designs began to appear in the late 1800s, and industrial casting offered a pathway to customization as never seen before. 


The early 2000s set the stage for a new phase for perforated metal as digital technology began (and continues to) push the envelope of what perforated metal can do and be. With the aid of computers and more advanced machinery, designers and developers have given perforated metal a new renaissance. This renaissance has evolved into not just design but shows the energy-saving and environmentalist abilities of perforated metal as well.

In 2015, research into facades showed that using perforated metal as a “second skin” on the exterior of buildings would reduce energy usage by keeping the building behind it cooler. This expands into heating, ventilation, and lighting consumption for energy. 

Uses and Advantages

Not only can perforated metal be used for groundbreaking design, structure, and amazing energy savings, but it can also:

  • Diffuse sound
  • Enhance privacy
  • Help walkways and stairs become slip-resistant and easy-to-clean 
  • Great for drainage
  • Create shade
  • Be used in industrial cooking
  • Help with filtration 
  • Help in many other sectors such as automotive, construction, and architecture.

The uses for perforated metal are almost limitless!

Consult with the Perforated Metal Experts at MetalTech Global

MetalTech Global is the nation’s premier distributor and fabricator of coil, sheet, and finished architectural metals products. We promote the use of sustainable metal products in the buildings and can create custom perforated patterns and shapes as well. With high-tech tools and over 15 years of experience, our architectural support staff can realize an unlimited variety of folded and perforated panel designs.

Contact us today for all of your perforated metal, coil, panel, and fabrication needs! We hope to work with you today to realize your next architectural dream.