Stainless steel is a versatile material comprised of a steel alloy and a small percentage of chromium — the addition of chromium adds to the material’s corrosion resistance, a trait that earned stainless steel its name. Because stainless steel is also low-maintenance, oxidation resistant, and doesn’t affect other metals it comes in contact with, it is frequently used in a large array of applications, especially in piping and tubing manufacturing. Based on the end use of the pipe, stainless steel piping is broken down into several categories.
Different Types of Steel Tubing and Stainless Steel Piping
Pipes and tubes are sometimes difficult to classify, and tend to be distinguished based on function. In addition to these classifications, stainless steel is also distinguished by type and grade.
304 Stainless Steel Pipe
For tubing and piping applications, type 304 stainless steel is a common selection because it is highly chemical- and corrosion-resistant. However, type 304 stainless steel is not compatible with applications where temperatures fall between 800 and 1640 degrees Fahrenheit (F) because it is prone to carbide precipitation, a result of the material’s .08 percent carbon content limit. Stainless steel type 304L circumvents this problem because it has a lower carbon content limit, and therefore can be subjected to welding and higher temperature applications. Other types of stainless steel often possess additives (such as nickel or molybdenum) which strengthen traits that are desirable in particular applications.
Stainless Steel Tubing for General Corrosion-Resistance
This general category of steel is appropriate for applications that require corrosion resistance above other traits. Ferritic or martensitic types of steel (those made with the most chromium) are manufactured to be either heat-treated or annealed. Austenitic Stainless steels (those with high chromium and nickel contents) offer even more resistance, and can be used under the same general conditions as ferritic and martensitic types.
Stainless Steel Pressure Pipe
This type of stainless steel pipe is made from either solid chromium or a chromium and nickel combination. Types of stainless steel pressure pipe include seamless and welded pipe, electric fusion welded pipe for high-pressure applications, large diameter welded pipe for corrosive or high-temperature applications, and seamless and welded ferritic and austenitic stainless steel pipe. And there is also stainless steel AP tubes.