Often used as presentation shelves, the transparent appearance provided by the porous wire rack construction is less imposing than alternative shelving units. This also makes wire shelves well suited to medical and food processing industries as they are less prone to dust collection. In factories and warehouses that might have expansive storage, wire is often the material of choice for shelving as this same openness is more compatible with building and fire safety codes as emergency sprinkler systems are not impeded by the open surfaces. Air circulation is likewise unhindered. While water and air may freely pass through a wire shelf, the porous construction does not mean that this type of shelf cannot be closed for better product security. In addition to structural wiring, protective wire grids or wire screens are a common feature of wire shelves that further contain and protect inventory while maintaining visibility.
For both open and closed wire shelf designs, it is important to consider the slit or gap size between the wires. The slit size should be smaller than the smallest item a shelf will hold to prevent such items from falling through or becoming stuck. The total weight of inventory should also be considered as it must not exceed the load bearing capacity of a given unit or mechanical failure due to overload may occur with dangerous and costly consequences. Such concerns are relative to the materials, size and manufacturing processes used to construct a given shelf. Ferrous metals, nonferrous metals, precious metals and alloys such as aluminum, copper, brass, steel and stainless steel are among the most common materials used for wire shelving. The strands themselves are produced through any of a number of wire forming processes including rolling, extrusion or stamping. Drawing is among the most commonly used technique in which a metal thread is passed through a series or progressively smaller dies until the desired gauge or thickness is achieved. Rounded, square or shaped wires are then shaped as needed through manual or CNC pressing and stamping processes before being welded or woven into the desired grid pattern. While the materials and construction of wire shelving is important, the dimensions of a shelf and inventory should also be considered to ensure optimization of storage space.