Stainless steel pipes have a wide range of applications ranging from transporting highly corrosive chemicals, manufacturing medical instruments and even in power generation.
Many people favor these pipes because they have a high resistance to corrosion, their strength and hygiene. Stainless steel pipes are manufactured in different grades (there are over 3,500 grades of steel) – and it is worth noting that not all grades are created equally.
In order to choose the most appropriate stainless steel pipes for your needs, there are several factors that you should consider as well as supplier terms that you should put into consideration. This article will discuss the different terms and factors that you should consider when choosing stainless steel pipes.
For starters, you should inform your supplier of where and how you will be using your pipes. As we mentioned earlier stainless steel comes in different grades, and, different grades perform differently in different conditions.
Based on where and how you will be using your pipes, your pipe supplier should be able to inform you if they have stainless steel pipes of a grade that can uphold well in the environment where you plan to use them.
When choosing pipes from a supplier it is also important to understand their strength and ductility. Ductility refers to the ability of the pipes to have their shape changed without breaking or loosing strength. The strength of stainless steel pipes is usually dependent on the grade of steel used in creating the pipes.
You should also ask your pipe supplier to explain if they have pipes that are extremely tough. Note that the toughness of pipes is usually dependent on the alloying elements of the stainless steel.
For example, stainless steel pipes that have a nickel alloy such austenitic steel grades have a high level of toughness and ductility.
On the other hand, pipes that have a chromium or Molybdenum alloy have a strong ability to resist corrosion.
In most cases, you will find that you may need to carry out some additional machining on your stainless steel pipes before you can use them for a specific application.
It is therefore important that you ask your pipe supplier to explain the machining rate of the pipes that you are about to purchase.
Ideally, you should ask your supplier to provide stainless steel pipes that are of a ‘free machining grade’ to lower the risk of your work hardening.
Stainless steel pipes come in different finishes. In the market, you can find pipes that a dull or pickled finish, bright finish and even some that have a light-absorbing black oxide coating. Make sure to query if your supplier can provide pipes that have the type of finish that you prefer.
Another important thing to ask your supplier is for them to explain the certification of the stainless steel pipes they stock.
Note that there are over 12,000 ASTM standards, and different standards are ideal for different uses. For example, ASTM A249 and ASTM A213 are best put to use in boiler connection, heat exchanger piping and super heaters while ASTM A908 is best put to use in industrial needle tubes.
ASTM standards/certifications can help you understand the chemical composition, heat treatment, strength and toughness of the metals you are about to purchase.
It is also important to ask your stainless steel pipes supplier to explain the cost of pipes. The cost of pipes may vary depending on the type of stainless steel used in manufacturing pipes.
Note that the most expensive pipes such as those made using austenitic stainless steel last longer and they also require less maintenance. When possible, it is better to buy expensive pipes since they usually provide more value in the long run.
If you are going to be using your stainless steel pipes to transport highly corrosive liquids, ensure that you ask your pipe supplier to explain the corrosion-resistant properties of the pipes you are about to purchase.
Note that that the different types of stainless steel used in manufacturing pipes have varying degrees of corrosion resistance. Ideally, if you are looking for pipes that will be able to strongly resist corrosion, go for pipes made using austenitic stainless steel.
It is also important to ask your pipe supplier to explain the type of stainless steel used in manufacturing the pipes that they stock.
Note that there are different types of steel use in manufacturing stainless steel pipes such as Ferritic stainless steels, Austenitic stainless steels, Martensitic stainless steels, Precipitation Hardened stainless steels and Duplex stainless steels.
All these types of stainless steel are best put to use in different applications. Your supplier should be able to offer you stainless steel pipes that have been created using the type of stainless steel that will be able to withstand the rigors of the specific pipe applications.
It is also important to ask your pipe supplier if they have pipes in the size (diameter) that you need. If the size of pipe that you need is unavailable, consider asking your supplier if they can you can make a custom pipe fabrication order.
If the supplier is open to this kind of arrangement, ensure that they provide you with details on how much time you will have to wait before your order is delivered.
In most cases, you will need other complimentary products for the applications of your pipes to be met. Before buying pipes, ask your supplier if they can also provide any other complimentary products/components that you will need when using your stainless steel pipes.
Lastly, check to see if your supplier provides complementary services such as free delivery for the products that you purchase.
It is also important to ask your supplier if they will provide a warranty for the items that you purchase from the store.
If there is a warranty on offer, ensure that it is written down and that all the terms that may void the warranty are spelt out.
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To get maximum value for money, consider finding a pipe supplier who is open to providing a discount for any bulk stainless steel purchases you make.