New York City’s subways were an underground oven of sorts in the early 20th century. Lack of ventilation was the primary catalyst, creating a subterranean environment that was overheated, unsanitary and unsafe. Walter Irving, a talented engineer from the area creatively designed a system of open metal bars that could be used as a platform while also allowing free movement of small particles such as air and water. Mr. Irving’s invention also weighed significantly less than its bulky counterparts. Recognized for its’ versatility, the United States Military honored Mr. Irving for his ingenuity as his steel grating became an integral surface for emergency landing in battlegrounds. Quickly assembled and easily camouflaged, these platforms eventually became known as “Magic Carpets.” These temporary landing pads gave way to similar innovations, like the Marston Mat, one of the most important inventions of World War II, these portable runways helped win the war in the Pacific.

Since then, this incredibly versatile structure has been utilized on commercial buildings, industrial plants, offshore platforms, bridge decks, catwalks and thousands of applications around the globe.
Historical Ad for Irving Subway ventilated metal grate flooring Portrait of Irving Subway, inventor of metal gratingEarly Metal Grating floor production






Historic image of metal grating being used for a safe walkway in New York City

Since then, open steel grating has dramatically improved safety in all of the fields where it is utilized. Where corrosion is a problem, fiberglass grating is employed and therefore used in corrosive environments to reduce maintenance costs. This type of grating can be found in a variety of applications including walkways and overhead platforms. It is also a structural product that can be weight-bearing between spans.
This composite material is manufactured by combining a matrix of resin and fiberglass. Molded grating has very high impact tolerance, as well as the highest chemical resistance of any fiberglass grating. It can also be made slip-resistant by adding grit to the surface. Fiberglass grating is also used when there are safety concerns due to liquids or oils on the floor and more corrosive environments needing chemical resistance.

Many different applications can benefit from Fiberglass Grating, such as: Walkways, Platforms, Protective Shielding, Machinery Housings, Raised Floors and Stairways. In addition, Industries that use Molded Fiberglass Grating can include bottling lines, food processing plants, lift stations, commercial aquariums, lube oil facilities, plating shops, beverage canning facilities, chemical plants and pulp and paper plants.

Where grating is not permanent or if welding is not permitted, mechanical fasteners are used to attach large pieces of equipment and other structures directly to the grating. Metal grating fastening is where PFS comes in…. In one instance, a stainless-steel threaded stud is welded to a T-Shaped piece of stainless-steel flat bar. Once inserted through the grating and twisted to grab the lower bars, anything can then be fastened to the 3/8” stud and supported by the fiberglass structure. Invented specifically for metal grating fastening by PFS founder and president, Gerry Keller, the FGGC Mount was introduced by PFS in 1998, this innovative part can be seen on many platforms around the world today.

Another PFS invention, introduced in 1994, is the SGC Mount, manufactured to fasten fiberglass grating to steel I-beams. The low impact ridge of the bottom section reduces opportunity for potential abrasions in painted beams while providing great fastening strength.

Mounting Assembly for Fiberglass Grating Fastening DiagramMetal Grating Fastening Diagram





Example of Metal Grating Flooring with mountsMetal Grating Fastening Mount DiagramMetal Grating Flooring with mounts







In addition to the above products, a wealth of fasteners and mounts are available to handle each and every problematic situation that exists in the complex world of industrial construction. Many of these parts can be attached using simple hand tools on both thick and thin base materials and all of these products and solutions can be found here at Production Fastening Systems.

And as for the man who started it all, a scholarship was established at The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1942 by Walter E. Irving, Class of 1896 and President of Irving Subway Grating Co. Inc., for students who demonstrate financial need, academic excellence, and other criteria that the Institute deems of value. To this day, the scholarship is awarded every year to a deserving student.