The difference between steel tubes and steel pipes
What are steel pipes?
Steel pipes are long, hollow pipes that are used for a variety of purposes. They are produced by two distinct methods which result in either a welded or seamless pipe. In both methods, raw steel is first cast into a more workable starting form. It is then made into a pipe by stretching the steel out into a seamless tube or forcing the edges together and sealing them with a weld. The first methods for producing steel pipe were introduced in the early 1800s, and they have steadily evolved into the modern processes we use today. Each year, millions of tons of steel pipe are produced. Its versatility makes it the most often used product produced by the steel industry.
Steel pipes are found in a variety of places. Since they are strong, they are used underground for transporting water and gas throughout cities and towns. They are also employed in construction to protect electrical wires. While steel pipes are strong, they can also be lightweight. This makes them perfect for use in bicycle frame manufacture. Other places they find utility is in automobiles, refrigeration units, heating and plumbing systems, flagpoles, street lamps, and medicine to name a few.ng, hollow tubes that are used for a variety of purposes. They are produced by two distinct methods which result in either a welded or seamless pipe. In both methods, raw steel is first cast into a more workable starting form. It is then made into a pipe by stretching the steel out into a seamless tube or forcing the edges together and sealing them with a weld. The first methods for producing steel pipe were introduced in the early 1800s, and they have steadily evolved into the modern processes we use today. Each year, millions of tons of steel pipe are produced. Its versatility makes it the most often used product produced by the steel industry.
Steel pipes are found in a variety of places. Since they are strong, they are used underground for transporting water and gas throughout cities and towns. They are also employed in construction to protect electrical wires. While steel pipes are strong, they can also be lightweight. This makes them perfect for use in bicycle frame manufacture. Other places they find utility is in automobiles, refrigeration units, heating and plumbing systems, flagpoles, street lamps, and medicine to name a few.
What are steel tubes?
Steel tubes are round, cylindrical shapes that are hollow. Steel tubes have a wide variety of structural and architectural applications. Unlike steel pipes, steel tubes are measured by their outside diameter and their wall thickness.
Although pipes and tubes may look similar, they are in fact quite different in nomenclature and sizing. Remember that pipes and tubes are rarely interchangeable.
1. Pipe Diameter and Tube Diameter
Steel tube is generally used for structural purposes and the OD is an important and exact number. Steel tube size is specified by OD and the wall thickness (WT); and the measured OD and stated OD are generally within very close tolerances of each other. Steel tube is usually more expensive than steel pipe due to tighter manufacturing tolerances.
Interestingly, while the stated and measured OD’s of steel tubes are almost exact most of the time, steel tube generally has a measured OD that is 1/8” larger than stated OD.
Steel pipes are categorized as tubular vessels used in pipeline and piping systems, and commonly transport gases or fluids. They are specified by “Nominal Pipe Size” (NPS) and Schedule (wall thickness). NPS is a size standard established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and should NOT be confused with the various thread standards such as NPT and NPSC.
The manufacturing of Nominal Pipe Sizes from 1/8” to 12” is based on a standardized nominal outside diameter (OD) that is different from the measured OD. NPS pipe 14” and up have measured OD’s that correspond to the nominal size.
For example: The actual outside diameter of 1¼” pipe is 1.625″ – while 1¼″ tube has a true 1.25″ outside diameter.
Pipes accommodate larger applications with sizes that range from a half-inch to several feet. Tubes are generally used in applications that require smaller diameters. While 10-inch pipes are common, it’s rare that you will come across a 10-inch tube. The nominal dimensions of tubes are based on the outside diameter. The purpose with a pipe is the transport of a fluid like water, oil or similar, and the most import property is the capacity or the inside diameter.
Tubing is more used in structures so the od is the important number. The strength of a steel tube depends on the wall thickness. So tubing is specified by the outside diameter and the wall thickness. Steel tubes are also not only supplied in round sections but can be formed into square and rectangular tubes. Each square or rectangular steel tube has a different mother tube, meaning that they are formed from the original round tube. The round tube will pass through a forming and a sizing section on the tube mill. During the same process it will continue through a couple of sets of turks which will form the round tube to a square or a rectangular steel section.
Pipes are normally used to transport gases or fluids so it is important to know the capacity of the pipe. Here the internal cross-sectional area (defined by the id) is important. It’s therefore not surprising that pipes are specified by the inside diameter (id). It is common to identify pipes in inches by using NPS or “Nominal Pipe Size”. The metric equivalent is called DN or “diameter nominal”. The metric designations conform to International Standards Organization (ISO) usage and apply to all plumbing, natural gas, heating oil, and miscellaneous piping used in buildings. A plumber always knows that the id on the pipe label is only a *nominal* id. As an example, a (nominal) 1/8 wrought steel pipe will typically have a *measured* id of 0.269 (schedule 40) or 0.215 (schedule 80). (More below about those schedule numbers.)
The key in the difference is the application where both tube and pipe are used for. For instance, a (nominal) 1/8 schedule 40 pipe will have a wall thickness of 0.068 (id=0.269) while a 1/8 schedule 80 pipe will have a wall thickness of 0.095 (id=0.215).
And these schedule numbers do not reflect a constant wall thickness. For instance, a (nominal) 1/4 schedule 40 pipe has a wt = 0.088 while the same pipe in schedule 80 has wt = 0.119 Generally speaking, a tube will have a consistent OD and its ID will change.
Steel tubes used in structural applications would most likely be seam welded while pipes are normally a seamless steel product. Some steel tubes are also used in the transport of fluids, even though they are seam welded. These include steel tubes for water pipes and welded tubes are commonly used in the agricultural industry for manufacturing pivots. Such tubes will undergo a process called pressure testing were the tube is sealed at both ends and water is pumped through the tube up to a certain level of pressure. This will quickly indicate if there is a leak or a bad spot in the weld of the circular hollow section tested.
2. Wall Thickness Difference
The wall thickness of pipes and tubes is an important factor to tell difference. The thickness of tubing is often specified by a gauge for thinner thicknesses and for thicker tubing it is indicated by fractions of an inch or millimeters. The normal range for tubing is 20 gauge, which measures .035 inch, up to a thickness of 2 inches. The wall thickness of a pipe is referred to as a pipe schedule, which you can find the relevant between pipe schedule and thickness in millimeter or inch in specification ASME B36.10. The most common schedules are SCH 20,SCH 40 and SCH 80. Schedule 40 is the most common and 80 is extra heavy. Which is needed to be noted, the pipe schedule is not set for all diameters; it varies.
Diameter 8inch/219.1 pipe, pipe schedule is SCH 40 = wall thickness is 0.322inch/8.18mm,
Diameter 12 inch /323.9 pipes, sch 40 refers wall thickness of 0.406inch/10.31mm.
There is no formula between the pipe schedule and wall thickness, the only is to refer to the ASME B36.10 or relevant standards.
3. Pipes Tolerance & Tube Tolerance
Pipes are usually used for transporting or distributing, then the properties of pressure or straightness, roundness are strictly specified, the tolerance for pipes is more loose than tubes comparatively. Here the tolerance refers to diameter tolerance, wall thickness tolerance, straightness tolerance, roundness tolerance etc.
4. Manufacturing Difference of pipes and tubes
As we mentioned above, tubes will require higher level requirements, consequently, even from the material producing to the tube or pipe manufacturing process will be different. Tubes will require much more process, tests, inspection than pipes. The delivery time will be longer, too. The yield of tubes are comparatively much lower than pipes. Pipe manufacturing is easier compare to tubes and it’s in mass production
5. Cost & Price
As per to the above, to manufacture tubes will take much more labor, energy, material etc, so the production cost is surely higher than pipes. And just because the high level requirement of tubes, the low yield of tubes will also increase the cost and price. While the process of pipes is easier. And pipes are manufactured in large lot and cut the cost.
6. Use of Pipes and Tubes
Pipes are used for fluids and gases, such as water, oil, gas or propane or as steam pipe, boiler pipe etc. Just because of this, the outside & inside diameter is the key measurement — it indicates how much can flow through the pipe. Also that’s the reason why the pressure rating is so important, because the pressure must be under the transport or distribute pressure range. Tubes, however, are often put to use in applications that require precise outside diameters, like with medical tubes, weapon part, industrial parts, cooler tubes, heat exchanger tubes and boiler tubes. Tubes are usually used in medical area, construction, structure or load bearing etc. This is why the outside diameter is important because it indicates how much it can hold as a stability factor.
Piping is usually made of carbon steel or low alloy steel. while tubing is often made of mild steel, aluminum, brass, copper, chrome or stainless steel etc. Different material also lead to different cost and price.
8. Mechanical Properties and Chemical Properties
For pipes the pressure rating, yield strength, ductibility properties are more important. However, for tubes, the hardness, tensile strength, high precision is the key to high quality. Those elements like C, Mn, S, P, Si are the main chemical elements for pipes, and there is few microelements requirements . While for tubing, the microelements are very important to the quality and process.
9 Connection /Join Welding
Connecting pipes is more labor intensive as it requires welding, threading or flanges and relevant equipments. Tubes can be joined quickly and easily with flaring, brazing or couplings, but for this reason, they don’t offer the same stability. Pipe welding is safer than “tube join”.
Pipe is available in rigid “joints”, which come in various lengths depending on the material. Tubing, in particular copper, comes in rigid hard tempered “joints” or soft tempered (annealed) rolls. Some tubing also comes in rigid “joints” or flexible rolls. The temper of the copper, that is whether it is a rigid “joint” or flexible roll, does not affect the sizing.
Pipes to delivered are in bundle or just bulk delivery. Because we just need to protect the pipes surface from serious damage and no need to protect from any light chafing. While tubes are usually wrapped with wooden box or thin film for each tube, especially for medical area tube.
12. Surface Finish
For outdoor field transporting or underground transporting, pipes need to be painted or coating to anti corrosion or oxidation. Tubes are sour cleaning or special polish treatment for particular field use.
For long transport or distributing, piping is often used in mass quantity and for long distance application. So, the order of pipes are usually large. While tubes may be used in small quantity.
14. Pipe End and Tube End
Pipe ends are usually in plain or beveled so as to welding. while tubes are with coupling ends or specially end finish, like irregular ends, special screw thread etc.
Pipes accommodate larger applications with sizes that range from a half-inch to several feet. Tubes are generally used in applications that require smaller diameters. While 10-inch pipes are common, it’s rare that you will come across a 10-inch tube.
Bright annealing tube under a reducing atmosphere or in a vacuum protection, after high temperature solid melting and rapid cooling to get the stainless steel tube, requiring the inner surface has a very good surface roughness and cleanliness, is a comprehensive consideration of organizational stability corrosion resistance and workability of the pipe.
Bright annealed tube inner surface roughness Ra values and their own cleanliness is extremely demanding, so the particles can occur during transport and accumulation of fluid retention has been effectively curbed. In addition, the chemical composition of the pipe and the base material dimensional tolerances need to be strictly controlled to ensure the weldability of steel and the welding quality in the welding fumes, which can reduce the occurrence of particle generation and improving the corrosion resistance of welded parts, and smoothness.
Bright annealing tube production control:
- Smelting raw materials must have good control, the level required to meet the microstructure times better level.
- Cold rolling volume control and reasonable within the organization in order to avoid defects.
- Mold control, to ensure the inner and outer surface roughness R a ≤ 0.3μm.
- Bright annealing control to ensure reasonable mechanical properties and surface brightness, and eliminate the pass mechanical polishing (MP), to ensure the smoothness of the inner surface under microscopic state, to avoid transmission fluid residues.
- Cleaning the control surfaces should have the products delivered better cleanliness and cleanliness, with metallic colors, no oil adhesion, oxide adhesion.
- Single hats loss prevention bagging, overall braid or wooden packaging.
The material of the stainless steel round bar is from Jiuli and Baosteel China, we control the quality from the very start. We polished three times to make sure the surface is perfect bright and smooth, and without any deficiency in quality.
We have precision equipment to test according to the standard required and PMI test to check the material before delivery.
Material stainless steel grades:
Also known as “marine grade” stainless steel due to its increased ability to resist saltwater corrosion compared to type 304. SS316 is often used for building nuclear reprocessing plants.
- 304/304L Stainless Steel
- 316/316L Stainless Steel
- 310S Stainless Steel
- 317L Stainless Steel
- 321/321H Stainless Steel
- 410 Stainless Steel
- Duplex 2205 (UNS S31803)
- Marking: Yaang, material grade, standard, specification, heat no.
- Surface Treatment: Bright annealed, polished outside and inside surface.
- Package: knitting strip bundle, wooden box or steel box
- Mill test certificate: according to EN 10204 3.2
- Inspection: Third party inspection, or by clints
- ASTM A556 / A556M – 96(2012) Standard Specification
- ASTM A 556 ]M – 88 / ASME 556 /ASTMA556M-88/ASME556
- U-bent heat exchanger tubes
Heat exchanger tube in an extensive range of austenitic stainless steels, duplex stainless steels, nickel alloys, titanium and zirconium, suitable for all types of heat exchangers, such as seawater coolers, condensers, evaporators, heaters and reheaters.
Heat exchanger Tubes are used in all types of process industries. Characteristic requirements are: bead worked weld, fixed lengths and extensive testing.
In order to meet the demand for rapid delivery, we have a strip stock with both standard and special grades of steel in the most common thicknesses.
We offer the market’s widest selection of stainless steel grades and has extensive experience of manufacturing heat exchanger tubes
Surface protection: Unless otherwise stated in order tubes are delivered with inner and outer surfaces temporarily protected with a film of light mineral oil.
Tubes ends: The tubes are supplied plain, square cut and on request the tubes can be deburred.
Pipes are made from more than 20 steel grades of various corrosion resistance and are intended for application in conditions of a wide range of corrosion environments and temperatures in heat exchanger.
- Nuclear Industry
- Chemical Industry
- Petrochemical industry
- HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning), refrigeration
- Food and Beverages
- Power Generation
Stainless steel pipe is one of the more standardized materials in the building and engineering industries. The thickness of the pipe walls, diameter of the pipe and even the chemical composition are all written as part of the American National Standards Institute standards, which is just one of multiple standards available.
Stainless steel pipe categorized by the American National Standards Institute uses the term schedule in reference to the pipe’s wall thickness. Despite this standardization, the wall thickness is not the same for every diameter of pipe. Instead, the schedule refers to the general strength of the pipe. Therefore, a schedule 40S stainless pipe has a wall thickness of approximately 1.73mm for a pipe with outside diameter of 10.3mm but increases to 9.53mm for a pipe of the same schedule but 323.9mm in diameter. There are four general schedules for stainless pipe; 5S, 10S, 40S and 80S.
Within each schedule of pipe there are multiple diameters of stainless steel pipe standardized by ANSI. These diameters range from 10.3mm (or .405 inches) to 323.9mm (or 12.75 inches). It is important to note that some diameters are not available in every schedule. For instance, the smallest diameters are not available in schedule 5S and many diameters are very difficult to find in some schedules, or very expensive if they are available.
Though ANSI standardizes stainless steel pipe, there are multiple formulas of stainless steel available. The two primary steels used in the manufacture of stainless steel pipe are ANSI 304 stainless steel and ANSI 316. Both steels have similar chemistry and differ only slightly in the amount of chromium in the steel.
Stainless Steel Pipe Chart
American National Standards Institute – ANSI
|NPS||OD||Schedule Designations||Wall Thickness||Inside Diameter||Weight|
|NPS||OD||Schedule Designations||Wall Thickness||Inside Diameter||Weight|
Source: China Steel Pipe Manufacturer – Yaang Pipe Industry Co., Limited (www.steeljrv.com)
(Yaang Pipe Industry is a leading manufacturer and supplier of nickel alloy and stainless steel products, including Super Duplex Stainless Steel Flanges, Stainless Steel Flanges, Stainless Steel Pipe Fittings, Stainless Steel Pipe. Yaang products are widely used in Shipbuilding, Nuclear power, Marine engineering, Petroleum, Chemical, Mining, Sewage treatment, Natural gas and Pressure vessels and other industries.)
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