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Differences between Steel Tube and Steel Pipe


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While appearing to be interchangeable, steel tube and steel pipe have different industrial purposes and applications. Understanding the differences between the two can ensure you select the right steel product for your application needs.

Tube and pipe are manufactured in both carbon steel and stainless steel. The significant differences when considering which one is right for your application or project are important:
  • Tube is calculated by outside (OD) diameter and wall thickness, pipe is calculated by their nominal pipe size (NPS) and schedule (wall thickness).
  • Pipe is round and is used to distribute fluids and gases.
  • Tube is round, square or rectangular.
  • Steel tube is often used for smaller diameters where tight tolerances are needed, while steel pipe is well suited for large applications.
  • Due to the manufacturing process, steel pipe is more cost-effective than steel tube since they require less processing and inspection.

Steel Tube Characteristics

Available in seamless or welded options, steel tube is well-suited for structural applications. As a versatile metal profile, steel tube provides the strength and durability needed for a wide range of industrial and commercial uses. Material options include mild carbon steel tubing as well as stainless steel tubing.

Often manufactured in square, round, or rectangular (flat) hollow profiles, steel tubing offers you the following benefits:
  • Can be telescoped
  • Cost-efficient
  • High tensile strength
View Steel Tube

Applications for Steel Tubing

Common industrial applications for steel tubing include:
  • Construction
  • Automotive applications
  • HVAC applications
  • Medical device components

Steel Pipe Characteristics

Similar to steel tubing, steel piping is widely used for manufacturing and industrial purposes. Also available in seamless or welded options, steel pipe is readily available in carbon steel or alloy steel material options. To assist with corrosion resistance, steel pipe can also be galvanized with a protective coating. Carbon steel pipe is easily workable, making it suitable for general purpose applications. Stainless steel pipe is often used for gas or liquid transport or where its sanitary, hygienic properties are needed.

Applications for Steel Pipe

Industrial and manufacturing uses for steel pipe include:
  • Chemical applications
  • Oil and gas applications
  • Heat exchangers
  • Plumbing applications
  • Automotive hydraulics
View Steel Pipe

Which is Stronger, Steel Tubing or Steel Piping?

Generally speaking, steel tubing is stronger than steel piping. Steel tubing offers you the tensile strength and ruggedness needed for high-strength applications and projects.
 

Find Steel Tube or Steel Pipe for Your Next Project

With an expansive selection of steel tube and steel pipe, Industrial Metal Supply has the in-stock inventory you need. Stop by one of our locations or contact us for more information.
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