Types of Steel and Their Applications in the Piping Industry

Every industrial piping system requires certain types of materials and fittings to meet their establishments’ unique plumbing, drainage, irrigation, or gas supply needs. But because pipes are composed of different elements and fabricated using a wide variety of materials, it can be challenging to identify the right type for your project. In this article, we discuss the most common types of industrial steel and their various substantial applications in the piping industry.

Stainless Steel

Composition – Stainless steel is the most commonly used variety in industrial applications. This material does not rust because it is made of various alloys, such as chromium, silicon, manganese, molybdenum, and nickel, which are responsible for preventing corrosion. Upon coming in contact with oxygen in water or air, these elements form a thin yet durable film that protects any product from decomposition. For these reasons, this material is preferred in the fabrication of pipes.

Stainless pipes are available in 304/304L and 316/316L varieties. The first one resists corrosion and is super heavy-duty while the other has carbon content and can be welded. Because of its aesthetic appearance, stainless pipes and fittings in Australia are often used in visible settings.

Application – Known for being highly corrosion-resistant, stainless pipes are commonly used in plumbing applications and in industries that require high strength, such as oil and gas, ships energy, and pharmaceutical.

Tool Steel

Composition – Tool steels are comprised of various amounts of cobalt, molybdenum, tungsten, and vanadium, elements that increase its resistance to heat and durability. Because of these characteristics, tool steel pipes are ideal for applications that involve drilling and cutting. They fall into three basic categories: cold work tools, hot work tools, and high-speed tools.

Application – Tool steels contain higher quantities of alloys, which make it unsuitable for piping products and more expensive to produce.

Carbon Steel

Composition – These are usually made up of carbon, manganese, silicon, phosphorus, and sulfur. The higher the carbon content, the stronger and less pliable the product. Low-carbon varieties, on the other hand, are highly weldable and formidable. They are also cheaper than high-carbon steel.

Application – Carbon steel pipes are workable and relatively inexpensive, making it accessible across many industries. But while carbon types account for 90% of total steel production, it is not suitable for high-pressure applications.

Alloy Steel

Composition – Alloy steels are made up of alloying elements in different proportions. Typically, it contains silicon, molybdenum, titanium, manganese, chromium, nickel, aluminum, and copper. Its composition determines its strength, corrosion-resistance, hardenability, and formability, amongst other characteristics.

Application – The best thing about this type is that it can be completely customized and designed according to your requirements. Pipes with high alloy content are commonly used in the piping industry for their high corrosion-resistance properties. They are preferred by oil and gas companies, as well as power generation businesses. Because they can also be subjected to rough use in hot or cold conditions, they are used in chemical plants, sugar mills, and many others.

The complex composition of steel can make it hard for anyone to choose the right piping and fitting for a particular application. While the information above offers useful advice, it’s best to consult an expert piping construction engineer or your preferred pipe and fitting manufacturer in Australia to ensure the safety and accuracy of your work.

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