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Stainless steel tubes

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General information about stainless steel tubes

Stainless Steels are typically divided into five families (austenitic, martensitic, ferritic, precipitation hardening and duplex). Within these families over 250 different grades of stainless steel exist. The characteristics of a stainless pipe are determined by its relative family, grade and chemical composition. Where the chemical composition can be manipulated in such a way that desirable characteristics are reinforced depending on applicability. Factors that can be altered this way include mechanical, physical, thermal and anti-corrosive qualities.

Generally stainless tubes are corrosion and thus weather resistant, making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications. Resistance is built when 10.5% of chromium inherent to all stainless steels reacts with the surrounding atmosphere forming a thin protective layer on the tubes surface.

Essentially one giant yet graceful stainless tube is the famous 394ft Dublin Spire. Towering proud in the city centre, the monument has permanently altered Dublin’s skyline. About 10ft wide with a wall thickness of 1.4in in the bottom, the monument tapers down to a mere 6in width with a wall thickness of 0.4in at the top. 126tonnes of type 316 stainless steel were not only chosen for its design appeal - with a highly polished surface sparking day and night- but also because a special emphasis needed to be put on corrosion resistance in the coastal city. The smooth finish also minimises any dirt accumulating on the monument’s surface.

How are round stainless steel tubes manufactured?

Stainless steel tubes are available in welded or seamless. Where the presence or absence of a seam determines the relative manufacturing process. Primary material used in the production of welded stainless pipes are previously hot/cold rolled sheets and plates. These more workable primary products have their edges heated and then pressed together using a series of rollers.

The manufacturing process of seamless tubes has been subject to change throughout history. Previously, seamless pipes were manufactured by drilling a hole through a solid steel rod. The rod was then drawn for elongation leaving an uneven sometimes off-centre tube. Hence, nowadays seamless tube is manufactured using a bullet shaped piercer which is gradually pushed through the centre of a heated billet while continuously rolled. This method produces a more even, reliable end product.

The choice between seamless and welded stainless tube is dependent on the particular application and purpose of the end product. Each manufacturing method provides tubing with different beneficial characteristics. Seamless tubes tend to be more light weight with thinner walls, while welded tubes are heavier, more rigid and therefore typically straighter.

Which industries utilise stainless steel tubes in their manufacture?

Due to their versatile nature stainless tubes are widely applicable ranging from manufacturing to household purposes. Perhaps the most common application are stainless tubes as conduit pipes.

  • Household appliances (sprinklers, handrails)
  • Food industry
  • Chemical industry
  • Ship building
  • Machinery (feeder rolls, constructions elements, pipelines)
  • Automotive (exhaust systems, hydraulics)

What are the benefits of stainless steel tubes?

Stainless steel is generally corrosion resistant.
Stainless tubes are therefore very durable with a long lifecycle and particularly low in maintenance. This longevity means stainless tubes are a very cost effective material.
As deterioration due to weather is minimal stainless pipes are suited for both indoor and outdoor application.
The material is furthermore fully recyclable and hence an environmentally sustainable choice.
The typical silvery shimmer of stainless steel is highly regarded in architectural applications. It’s aesthetic appeal is cause for its frequent application in interior and exterior design.