Pipes and tubes are very common structures in the industrial and construction environment. In fact, most people tend to use the two terms interchangeably. Do the two terms refer to the same thing? If not, what is the difference between piping and tubing?

In this post, we are going to draw clear lines between piping and tubing.  At the end of it, you will be in a perfect position to know which one you should use and where it is applicable.

What is Pipe?

What is Pipe?

The word ‘Pipe’ is used to refer to a round tubular or hollow section that is used for distributing fluids and gases. It can also be used for conveying solid materials such as granules, powder, pellets, pellets among many other materials.

Can a pipe be square? No. the Pipe will always be round-shaped. It is only tubes that are allowed to take other shapes such as square, oval, or rectangle.

One of the most vital things that you should know hen buying pipes is the dimensions. Pipes are denoted by inside diameter (Pipe ID). This value is used to indicate the fluid conveyance capacity of the pipe.

Pipe ID is usually expressed in terms of the NPS (nominal pipe size) and sometimes DN(bore size).

It is also imperative to note that the outside diameter (OD) of a pipe will not always match the nominal size of the pipes under the 14inches NPS.

Other important dimensions of a pipe are the outer diameter (OD) and the wall thickness (WT).

To find out the inside diameter of a pipe(ID), simply take the Outside Diameter (OD) minus two times the wall thickness (WT) which is sometimes referred to as the pipe schedule. The answer will be the fluid capacity of the pipe.

For a pipe that has a given NPS, its outside diameter will always be fixed or constant. The thicker the wall the lesser the inside diameter.

What is a Tube?

What is a Tube?

The term tube is used to refer to the round, oval, rectangular, and square sections that are used for a wide range of mechanical applications. Tubes can also be used on the instrumentation systems and even on the pressure equipment.

In terms of the calibration, tubes are usually calibrated in terms of the diameter and wall thickness. The measurement can be in millimeters or inches.

When it comes to calculating the dimensions of tubes, you will also have to calculate the difference between the outside diameter and the wall thickness. The result will be the inside diameter of the tube.

Is Tubing Stronger than Piping?

We cannot compare pipes vs tubes without mentioning the strength factor. Which one is stronger between the two?

Tubes are always regarded to be stronger than pipes. This is made possible due to the fact that tubes come in different designs. Some designs are specifically done with the goal of enhancing the overall strength of the material.

The difference in strength also means that tubes are more suitable for applications where the strength matters.

However, the strength difference between tubing vs piping will still boil down to the material used.  Some materials are stronger/ weaker than others regardless of whether they are used for making pipes or tubes.

The Table Below Illustrates the Differences Between Piping vs Tubing

Pipe vs TubePipeTube
DimensionsThe key dimension that is used for defining a pipe is the Inside diameter (ID). Usually expressed in NPS (nominal pipe size) or DN(nominal diameter) it is used for determining the conveyance capacity of a pipe. You should know that NPS is basically a rough estimate of the diameterThe most outstanding dimensions of the tube are the outside diameter (OD) and wall thickness (WT).

 

These two calibrations are usually expressed in millimeters and inches.

 

They give an actual value of the dimensions of tube

Wall ThicknessThe wall thickness of a pipe is usually indicated in terms of the “Schedule” (Sch).

The most common wall thickness include Sch 40, Sch STD, SCH XS/XH/XXS

Even though two pipes may be having the same schedule, their wall thickness may still vary.

Wall thickness is expressed in millimeters and inches

The wall thickness of a tube is also expressed in inches and millimeters.

The wall thickness of tubes is usually measured using a gauge nomenclature (SWG BWG)

Shapes and DesignsRoundComes in different shapes including round, oval, square and rectangular
Production processPipes are usually made in an automated process that is highly efficient.

The production process is continuous to meet the demand of the market.

The process of manufacturing tubes is lengthy and  vigorous
The priceCheaper than tubing due to the simplicity of the manufacturing processHigher price due to the  rigorous production process.

Low volumes of tubes can be manufactured at any given time.

MaterialsA wide range of materials can be usedLike steel piping, a wide range of materials can be used for tubing
ConnectionsMost pipes are beveled and have plain endsMost tubes are threaded or have grooves which facilitate easy connections  when installed
Strength and TolerancePipes are set to have some level of tolerance. However, the issue of strength is rarely emphasized.

 

Tubes tend to have high levels of tolerances.Manufacturers pay attention to all the parameters that can affect the strength of the tubes. This explains why tubes are stronger than pipes
Metal TypesMostly available in black steel(Hot rolled steel)Available in  both cold rolled steel and hot rolled steel
Telescoping AbilityMost pips cannot be telescoped. This is because most of them don’t have a flash weld.Tubes can be easily telescoped.This is due to the flash weld that inside the tube

Pipe and Tube Customized Service In China

Piping and Tubing Customized Service

Would you like your materials to be converted to either pipes or tubes? Then you have to look for a reliable piping and tubing services company in China.

At Roche Industry, we design and fabricate pipes and tubes for different applications. Contact us and we will deliver quality pipes and tubes.

References

https://www.sterlingpipeandtube.com/sterling-news/difference-between-pipes-and-tubes