Manufacturing Process of Butt Weld Pipe Fittings
What is the difference between a manufacturer and a supplier of butt weld pipe fittings ?
- Manufacturers own machines, presses and equipment to actually make butt weld pipe fittings from pipe or plate.
- Suppliers are intermediaries between manufacturers and end-users: suppliers can be wholesalers, distributors, EPCs, …
- In some cases, end-users need to speak directly to manufacturers to get the fittings they need when they need them.
Can fitting manufacturers in North America and Europe compete with low-labor-cost countries ?
- Butt weld pipe fittings are used in the most demanding applications: oil & gas, nuclear, chemicals, …
- A butt weld pipe fitting looks like a simple product, but many things can go wrong during design and manufacturing, causing problems later in the field: scratched inner surface, thinner wall at outside radius, oval fittings, out-of-specs welding-end finish, invisible cracks, wrong chemical composition of steel grade, …
- Manufacturing close to end-users in North America or Europe with experienced and highly skilled workers assures highest quality.
- Also Western manufacturers can compete by emphasizing technology, product development and highly efficient manufacturing processes.
- (Of course, dumping by foreign competitors of imported fittings at prices below production costs is not an acceptable competing practice.)
How are pipe fittings manufactured ?
Key steps in manufacturing process are as follows:
- Planning: based on fitting specifics and client requirements; includes creating part identification in manufacturing system.
- Selection of raw material: metal; plate or pipe.
- Welding: for fittings that are not simple elbows, returns, bends, reducers or caps.
- Inspection and tests: according to standards and client requirements.
- Coating (if required).
- Preparation of documentation.
What is a heat induction mandrel ?
- In this very efficient manufacturing method, a pipe is pushed over a die called “mandrel”, then expanded and bent to desired dimensions.
- In this process, heat is transferred to a pipe by applying an electric current (known as “induction”) around the steel pipe and gas flames under the neck (intrados) to minimize material thinning on this region and to make forming operation easier. Mandrels are used to make elbows from ½ inch to 72 inch diameters.