The Process of Steel Tube Supplying and Manufacturing
Los Angeles Steel Tube Supplier
Steel tubes and pipes are widely used today for different purposes in different industries. Due to its resistance to both high temperatures and corrosion, steel tubing is widely used in applications where longevity and resilience are critical. From the construction industry where it’s used in architectural projects like railing along staircases, industrial applications in the water, gas and sewage industries to the medical industry, applications seem endless.
There are different types of steel tubes produced in the market today for use in various industries.
These include steel pipes and tubes, fence tubes, austenitic tubes, aluminized tubes, martensitic tubes, ferritic tubes, u-bend tubes and heat-resistant tubes.
While a steel tube supplier may offer different steel tube products, the thickness, shape and size of steel tubes produced is often determined by the needs of a client and their specific application.
Just like the production of other steel products, steel tubes have to undergo a specific manufacturing process to ensure that the end product meets the highest quality standards for supply or client requirements for a finished product.
Here’s what you should know about the process of steel tubing supplying and manufacturing.
Steel Tube Manufacturing Process: The Process of Steel Tube Supplying and Manufacturing
Operators in the steel tube manufacturing industry produce welded, riveted and seamless steel pipes and tubes from purchased steel. Clients may order specific steel pipe products, drill pipes and pipe casings or mechanical or structural tube and pipe products. The steel tubing manufacturing process may vary depending on what a client needs.
Steel Purchasing and Loading
Quality control is at the core of any steel product manufacturing process. Steel tubing or piping manufacturers utilize a series of quality-controlled processes that ensure that the end product meets your specifications and exceeds your expectations. It all begins with the purchase and selection of the best raw materials.
Steel tube manufacturers use only the highest-quality, continuous-cast, control-rolled, fully killed, fine-grain and low-carbon steel. This coiled skelp is usually sourced from some of the most reputable and reliable suppliers in the market. Once the skelp inventory is purchased, it’s cross-checked against supplier documentation as received for record keeping purposes.
The steel coils are then staged for entry according to order requirements, verified against database information and then loaded into the mill using a dual cone uncoiler to begin the manufacturing process.
Before any steel tubing manufacturing begins, a client’s project may require a specific edge or edge conditioning. A steel tube supplier will use their edging capabilities to deliver a round or partial or full square skived edge for your steel tubing needs.
Skelp edges are milled or sheared to pre-specified widths and the lead edge of each steel coil is squared for threading into the mill.
Pre-edged skelps are also provided by metal suppliers. It’s important to consult with your supplier about how the edging process will affect your steel tubing application. Custom edging is provided to fit specific customer profiles.
Forming is another critical step of the steel tube manufacturing process. Steel tube suppliers utilize modern mill edge-forming systems to ensure controlled skelp shaping. Unlike years ago when rolling mill technology was the only method available to manufacture stainless steel tubes or pipes for industrial applications, today, newer developments and technology are now being used in the manufacturing of steel tubes.
Continuous tube mill technology using multi-torch tungsten inert gas is one of the latest technologies being used for steel tube manufacturing. Other innovations including pre-form stands, cage and internal forming as well as fin pass stands that allow for a more precise steel tube cylinder. Rolling and welding are involved in this process.
Steel strips are fed to the tube mills and pass through a number of rollers as per the required size. The strips are then converted into tubular shapes. A high-frequency welding machine is also used in the forming process to properly examine and make necessary adjustments based on the required weld parameters, including alignment, speed, temperature and trim removal.
Cleaning and Heating
The rolled stainless steel tubes are then cut to the required lengths depending on a client’s industrial demands. The tubes and pipes then have to be subjected to a cleaning process to get rid of any dirt. During this process, a heat treatment is also involved in removing any stresses that may have occurred during the forming and welding processes.
Heat treatment or weld seam annealing is usually given on the continuously rolling steel processing hearth furnace. The temperature in the furnace is usually measured and recorded by an optical pyrometer that is linked to the mill computer system to help control the annealing process. After heat treatment is completed, the steel tubes are then straightened and also undergo a pickling process that helps remove scales that may be on the steel tubing surface.
To ensure that steel tubes meet or exceed industry specifications and additional standards as specified by a customer, a steel tube supplier will ensure quality sizing and cutting of steel tubes and pipes. Different sizing stands, a straightening stand and a rotary cutoff machine are used to size and cut tubes to exact length.
A unique identification is automatically assigned to each piece of steel tube that is cut by the mill machine to ensure accuracy for customer orders.
The required steel tube size may not always be obtained from the mill directly.
To obtain the desired size, the cold-drawing process is used, where the tube is drawn over the milling bench using die plugs. The formed steel tubes or pipes are coated with a lubricant such as soap or oxalic solution help reduce friction as the cold drawing process is carried out.
To ensure compliance with specified steel tubing manufacturing requirements, a steel tube supplier will ensure that each pipe is visually inspected before moving to the next finishing process. Preliminary inspection is vital in identifying any manufacturing flaws or processing issues that could lead to order cancellation or low standard end-user products.
Every piece of steel tube or pipe that has been processed up to this point is transferred to an ultrasonic inspection station where it’s carefully inspected for correct mill feedback prior to being routed back into the next processing step. Preliminary inspections are common in any steel manufacturing process and form a key part of internal testing and quality control measures.
The finishing process may involve further cleaning, pickling, heat treatment and straightening depending on a customer’s specifications. Each steel tube is precisely machined on both ends according to the latest API 5L bevel requirements or customer requirements. Processed steel tubes are then marked using a computerized inkjet machine. The markings include the steel grade used, size, heat number as well as the stamp of a third-party inspection before the finished steel tubes or pipes are passed on to steel tubing suppliers or exporters.
Steel tubes are not only used for domestic work but also for construction of numerous devices, satellites, space stations and various medical equipment, machines and surgical tools. Whether you need basic steel tubing for general applications or special steel tube types and sizes, suppliers and manufacturers can deliver orders according to your finishing requirements.
Further quality checks and tests must be conducted at the final stage before the steel tubes, or pipes are supplied to metal distributors or delivered to customers. The finished steel tubes are routed through a number of tests including an ultrasonic weld inspection, a hydrostatic test, a wall thickness verification, an end finish check, a straightness evaluation and an inside and outside tubing surface visual inspection.
Other tests can also be conducted depending on the type of steel used for manufacturing, selected tubes or upon a customer’s inspection or testing request. The final inspection is a critical step before steel tube packaging, and dispatch is done by the steel tube supplier.
The Process of Steel Tube Supplying and Manufacturing
When it comes to steel tube or pipe supply, proper measuring and coding are vital to ensure a smooth shipping and delivery process.
Each steel tube is properly weighed, measured, bar-coded and stenciled for complete and easy identification and traceability upon shipment. All steel tubing characteristics can easily be verified against available database order information before they’re sent to shipping or even upon customer request once delivered.
Quality Steel Tubing and Piping Supply: The Process of Steel Tube Supplying and Manufacturing
Whether it’s round, rectangular or square steel tubing, steel is the material of choice for domestic, construction, manufacturing and medical industries. Not only does steel tubing provide the support in many commercial structures and residential buildings but many of today’s equipment, machines, instruments and even technology are built upon a framework of steel tubing.
At Metal Supply, we’ve supplied these and other industries with steel tubes and pipes since 1961. Our catalog is filled with high-quality steel tubing products that are certain to meet even your most demanding requirements. If you’re looking for a dedicated steel tube supplier, get in touch with us today.