The term “tubes” is a general term that refers widely to solid or hollow cylinders of any shape, size, or material composition that are used for structural and/or conveyance purposes. Typically, tubes help move fluids, support structures, protect optical wires and cables or protect electrical wires and cables. Interested parties can find the product or products they seek by directly contacting tube manufacturers, such as those listed on IQS Directory.
Quick links to Tube Manufacturers Information
Differences Between Tube and Pipe
Note that the terms “tube” and “pipe” are often used interchangeably, and, therefore, it is not uncommon to hear tube manufacturers being referred to as pipe manufacturers. In fact, tubes and pipes are almost exactly the same, except tubes generally have more strict engineering requirements than pipes. Not nearly as close in the definition are hoses, which, while also hollow and cylindrical, are portable and flexible; in contrast, tubes and pipes are traditionally rigid and permanent or semi-permanent. If one hears “hose” used in place of “tube,” he or she would be wise to question the authority of the person speaking.
Types of Tubing
Generally, tube manufacturers produce three main types of tubing such as seamless, as-welded, and drawn-over-mandrel. Seamless tubes are created using either hollow tubes that have been extruded or solid bars drilled to exact specifications via the rotary piercing process. Once formed, manufacturers can change their sizes and/or tolerances by putting them through a variety of cold-working techniques. As-welded, also known as welded or electric-resistance welded (ERW), tubes are made naturally through welding. They can be reduced in size to match customer specifications. Finally, manufacturers fabricate drawn-over-mandrel tubes by inserting a mandrel, or metal ball or rod, into previously formed tubes as they are bent through a die. Mandrel drawing imparts the qualities of improved surface finish, weld integrity, and dimensional accuracy. Manufacturers also often employ tube swaging machines or tube bending machines to create bends. These machines alter tube end diameters using pressure applied by hydraulic or mechanical tools. Other processes that tube manufacturers use to create bends include heat induction, rotary draw bending, simple three-roll bending, three-roll push bending, packing, pitch packing, ice packing, sand pack, or hot slab forming and press bending. To perfect and finish their products, tube manufacturers also utilize a number of specialized and secondary processes, such as flaring, plug drawing, rod drawing, cutting, notching, annealing, coating, sizing, flattening, punching, drilling, and buffing. In addition, much of the equipment used and processes employed by tube manufacturers are now supplemented by precise operations of CAD drawings and CNC machinery. These allow for closer tolerances, more specific lengths and dimensions, increased production speeds, and fewer human errors.
Applications for Tubing
Tube manufacturers ensure that their customers, who range from medical part suppliers to plumbers, always get the best tubing for their application; the services they offer relate to tube forming, tube fabrication, and tube finishing. Some examples of the countless products produced by tube manufacturers include pipe elbows, condenser tubes, floor flanges, exhaust pipes, water pipes, automotive fuel lines, control lines, hydraulic cylinders, hydraulic tubes, umbilicals, instrumentation tubes, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) tubes, heat exchanger tubes, cooling tubes, high pressure tubes, nuclear fuel tubes, point-of-purchase displays, bike frames, and tent frames.
Some of the materials most commonly offered by tube manufacturers include copper, aluminum, brass, bronze, and stainless steel. Other metals and metal alloys out of which they are sometimes made include titanium, nickel alloy, duplex stainless steel, and zirconium. In addition, they are commonly made of plastics such as HDPE (high-density polyethylene). Materials are chosen for an application based on their qualities and how they will strengthen and support said application. Along with a variety of materials, they offer tubes in all dimensions imaginable. This diversity means that manufacturers can serve customers in many industries, such as industrial manufacturing, automotive, plumbing, heating and cooling, HVAC, medical and laboratory supply, consumer goods, retail services, architecture, and sports and recreation. Tube manufacturers that provide the support and expertise customers look for will ask questions relating to an application’s shape and dimension requirements, the environment in which the tubes will be immersed or placed, anticipated pressure or stress, and local/regional and/or industry regulations. Common tube and pipe-related regulations include those set forth by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), the ISO (International Standards Organization), and the BSI (British Standards Institution) Group.