How to Choose the Right Tubing

When choosing the tubing for your application, one of the largest factors after size is what type of material.  Tubing is used in complex and basic machinery and for all types of applications.  This week we are looking at some of the most popular tubing materials.

Let’s start with Carbon Steel (Hydraulic) tubing.  Basically, carbon steel is a steel alloy that is made of iron and carbon.  Carbon is an important commercial steel alloy as it is the most commonly used steel in the United States.  Around 85% of steel used is carbon steel.  Carbon content determines the hardness of the tubing.  Increase the carbon content, and it increases the strength and hardness of your tubing.  However, increasing the carbon also means the tubing is more brittle and has less ease with welding.  Carbon steel tubing is frequently used in applications that involve the flow of gas, fuel or any type of liquid.

Carbon steel tubing come in 4 major types, usually designed with specific purposes in mind.

  • Boiler, Oil and Gas Steel Tubing: created using either cold drawing or hot finishing
  • Hot Finished Seamless Tubing: Has a smooth surface and can be used in many different applications including; construction, agriculture, industrial, machinery, mining, drilling and transportation
  • Single Wall Carbon Steel Tubing: Used in low pressure applications in the automotive industry such as fuel and vacuum lines.
  • Double Wall Carbon Steel Tubing:  found in high pressure hydraulic and pneumatic applications.  Can be found with different coatings and materials.

Moving on to Stainless Steel Tubing.  Stainless steel tubing is easy to recognize with it’s shine, and is quite an impressive material.  Stainless tubing does not easily corrode, rust or stain with water as ordinary steel will.  Yet, “stainless” may be misleading because stainless steel can in fact stain under low oxygen, high salinity or poor circulation environments.

The 2 major types of stainless steel tubing are 304 and 316 stainless steel.

  • 304 Stainless Steel: This tubing is the most versatile and widely used.  304 is very resistant to oxidation and corrosion.  This tubing allows for easy fabrication and cleaning.
  • 316 Stainless Steel: The 316 tubing is a heat resisting stainless steel that is highly resistant against corrosion due to chemical corrodants such as sea water, fatty acids and high temperatures. This tubing is durable, easy to fabricate, clean, weld and finish.

The next tubing we will talk about is Copper Tubing.  Copper tubing is a solid, long lasting choice for a leak proof system.  Since copper tubing is so permanent, a skilled technician is recommended for installation.  Copper tubing is especially resistant against corrosion and can be joined using flares, compression connections, or solder.

The 2 basic types of copper tubing are Annealed Copper and Hard Drawn Copper.

  • Annealed Copper Tubing:  This tubing is frequently found in specialty applications.  This copper is soft and can be easily bent and because of that it needs to be supported with brackets or clamps.  This tubing will harden as a result of vibration, oxidation and bending, and will crack at stress points.
  • Hard Draw Copper Tubing: This rigid copper tubing is more commonly found in homes, as water lines.  This tubing is not easily bent so soldered and braze on fittings are used when making connections.  The stiffness of this tubing means it is stronger, and requires less support.

Last, but definitely not least we move on to Aluminum Tubing.  Aluminum and Aluminum alloys are most known for their light weight, which is generally around 1/3 less the weight of steel.  The lightness plus the excellent strength to weight ratio makes this versatile tubing well suited for applications that require lightweight parts with exceptional strength such as the aerospace, rail and automotive industries.  Aluminum tubing also displays superior corrosion resistance, so it’s an optimal tubing material for applications in challenging environments.Thanks to aluminum tubing’s excellent thermal conduction it is also well suited for various industrial heat transfer processes.

The most common aluminum grades used for tubing are the following 3.

  • Aluminum 2024: This alloy tubing is readily formed with excellent strength, it is commonly machined to  a high finish and has a low level of resistance to corrosion.
  • Aluminum 7075: This high strength alloy offers an above average resistance to corrosion and cracking.
  • Aluminum 5086:  Offering a strong resistance to corrosion this proves to be an option for many applications as the material becomes stronger through cold working.

Are you offering an array of tubing to your customers, to be able to suit their tubing needs?  Are you missing out on customers because you aren’t? The Tubes n’ Hoses system is designed to be able to work with all of these different types of tubing (in certain sizes and wall thicknesses).

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