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Welded vs. Seamless Stainless Steel Tubing: These Are the Differences

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There are two common types of tubing: welded and seamless stainless steel. Choosing the right product is largely a matter of picking tubing that meets both the project’s specifications and the ultimate conditions in which the tubing will be used.

Welded vs. Seamless Stainless Steel Tubing: These Are the Differences

Read on to find out about the key differences between the two product types that could influence buying decisions.

Differences in Manufacturing Processes

Welded and seamless stainless steel tubing may look similar, but these two mechanical tubing products are manufactured using different processes. The manufacturing processes affect how these two products perform in the field, so it’s worth learning about the differences.

Seamless Tube Manufacturing

Seamless tubes lack welded seams. Instead, they are manufactured using an extrusion process that involves drawing the tube from a solid billet then extruding it into a hollow shape. The tubing can then be further shaped through cold rolling or cold drawing.

Welded Tube Manufacturing

The manufacturing process for welded tubing is a little different. It involves roll forming sheets of stainless steel into a tube shape, then welding the seam along the length of the tube. Welded tubing can be manufactured using either hot or cold forming processes, though cold forming creates a smoother finish and tighter tolerances.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Each Tubing Type

Every construction product comes with a unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Comparing the unique benefits and drawbacks of welded vs. seamless tubing can make it easier to choose the right one.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Seamless Tubing

Seamless tubes are completely homogenous, which means they have superior corrosion resistance, greater strength, and an improved ability to withstand high pressure. Seamless tubing is perfect for critical applications in harsh environments. However, these products also tend to be more expensive due to their more intensive manufacturing processes.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Welded Tubing

Welded tubing is less expensive than seamless tubing. The simplified manufacturing process also leads to faster lead times, which can be helpful if time is of the essence to complete the project. The primary downside of welded tubing is that it is not as strong and corrosion-resistant as seamless stainless steel tubing.

Common Applications for Each Tubing Type

Want to get an idea of how the benefits and drawbacks of welded and seamless tubing have influenced other contractors’ decisions? Take a look at these common applications.

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Applications for Seamless Tubing

Seamless tubing is used primarily in harsh environments that justify its slightly higher cost. They include:

  • Oil or gas control lines
  • Chemical injection lines
  • Chemical processing plant trace bundles
  • Fluid and gas transfer lines
  • Below-sea safety valves

Applications for Welded Tubing

Since welded tubing is the less expensive option, it’s commonly found in a wider variety of applications. It’s especially popular in these industries:

  • Automotive
  • Food and beverage
  • Marine
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Medical
  • Architectural

The Bottom Line

At first, welded and seamless stainless steel tubing may look similar. However, their disparate manufacturing processes mean that each product has a different set of tolerances and ideal applications.

Choosing the right tubing products requires understanding not just things like load-bearing requirements but also the environment in which the tubing will be used.

When in doubt, contractors, architects, and product designers should reach out to a company that has both welded and seamless tubing manufacturing expertise for advice.

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