There are a lot of public works and industrial projects that need to avoid seams and welds in metal tubing due to pressure and other considerations. There are sources for seamless tubing that will meet this need. Seamless tubing is tubing without welded seams and is manufactured by a special process. There are several alloys or cold-drawn carbon seamless tubing choices currently available.
What is Seamless Tubing and How is It Made?
Some people get tubing and piping confused and use the names interchangeably, but there are differences. Tubes are measured by the diameter on the outside and their wall thickness where pipes are measured by their inside diameter. The difference in uses is also important. Tubing is used for structural and more aesthetic uses where piping is used for transporting fluids, gases, and liquids. Purchasing departments that need seamless tubing must know the difference and order the correct product for their projects.
Seamless tubing is described as tubing without a welded seam. This type of tubing is made through a special extrusion process. The tubing is drawn from a stainless-steel billet where it is extruded into a hollow form. This is accomplished by first heating the billets and then forming them into oblong circular molds. While still hot, the molds are forced through a mandrel rod and then elongated. After this, further steps such as pilfering, cold drawing, and cold rolling are used to complete the tube shaping. Seamless tubes can be very small in diameter or can be as much as 24 inches in diameter.
Industries That Use Seamless Tubing
Industries that may use seamless tubing for their operations include:
- Power-generating companies
- Oil and gas
- Automotive industry
- Industrial applications
- Processing industries
- Commercial Construction
- Boiler manufacturer and installers
- Chemical processing and instrumentation industries
- Aerospace and defense, including the nation’s space program
- Custom applications
The Advantages of Seamless Tubing
Seamless tubing has many advantages in addition to being seamless. They include more strength, good corrosion resistance, and the ability to withstand higher pressures than welded tubing. It also has important advantages such as uniformity of shape without bulges or indents, uniform strength along the whole length of tubing, and strength under loads. Seamless tubes have more versatility in shaping, bends, and other customization to fit certain spaces or uses.
Types of Seamless Tubing Products
There are numerous types of seamless tubes on the market aimed at different industries and end-uses. They include but are not limited to:
- Pressure and mechanical tubulars in different sizes and cold-drawn carbon and alloy options. The Material grades include 1010, 1020, 1026, and 4130.
- Heat exchanger and boiler seamless tubing.
- Carbon steel tubing in many sizes and grades. They can also be made to customer specifications.
- Tubing for feedwater heaters or U-bending for tubes.
- Tubing for the heat exchanger manufacturers including special alloys.
- OEM or original equipment manufacturer tubing for the appliance, automotive, HVAC, beverage, and other manufacturers.
- Steam surface condenser service tubing in a variety of alloys to meet different specifications and codes.
- Specialty seamless tubing.
Manufacturers of stainless steel and alloy tubing offer an extensive inventory of the different types and sizes of seamless tubing to meet industry needs. WEBCO can produce custom tubing for its customers as well as provide a substantial inventory for emergency needs. When a new project or product is planned, the manufacturer or project designers can ask the tubing supplier engineers to work with them to design and manufacture the perfect tubing to meet the needs of the project or product.
Services Offered by Seamless Tube Manufacturer
The best seamless tube manufacturers offer services to their customers that make the tubing fit their specifications and cut down work at their project or manufacturing facilities, saving labor and machining costs. These services may include:
- Bending of the carbon, copper alloy, nickel alloy, stainless steel, and duplex stainless-steel tubing to the angles required for the end product. This service tightens customer turnaround times and eliminates additional vendors and their complications.
- A wide range of mill cut lengths from five feet to 60 feet are readily available, and longer or custom lengths can be ordered.
- Special packaging including wood boxing, hex bundling, tri-wall boxing, rack boxing, spookless coiling, coiling on metal or wood reels, square bundling, or RoPac packaging used for short pieces of tubing.
- Finning on the tubing is available in many diameters and lengths of tubing. This is like a ribbed texture.
- EDI-capable services (electronic data exchange) in reference to shipping schedules, manufacturing schedules, and more data exchange requirements customers may have.
- Specialized solutions for cold forming tubing when the diameter at the ends of lengths needs to be reduced or expanded.
- Meeting customer requirements for specialized controlled atmosphere heat treatments to normalizing, bright annealing, or stress relieving. Treatments such as quenching or tempering are also available.
- Precision cutting of tubing may also be available. Customer custom lengths, special end finishes, or laser cut tube profiles are examples of custom cutting services.
The best manufacturers offer well-managed, generous inventories, large partner networks, and good product availability for their customers. They have a dependable, quality supply chain, a track record for on-time delivery of products, and a customer responsiveness record to rely on. The seamless tubing manufacturer and supplier to deal with is the one who delivers the correct, high-quality product on time and at the quoted price. The quality of the tubing should be high and dependable on an ongoing basis. Their customer service and problem-solving capabilities should meet customer needs every time.
Once a manufacturer finds the right seamless steel tubing manufacturer and supplier, they should stick with that supplier for future jobs. Having good supply chain contacts saves a company time, money, and problems. When a special item is needed for a new product or project, it is an advantage to have the correct manufacturer to rely on for design and technical help. A manufacturer who is familiar with the individual customer and their needs and operating model will save time and deliver a better product.