Tubes production: types, processes and machines

macchina produzione tubo metallico invimec

Metal pipes and tubes are semi-finished products that are essential for industry. Formed in stainless steel, aluminum, brass or special alloys, tubes and pipes have both functional and constructive fundamental roles, depending on their construction technology and final application.

Let’s find out the different types of industrial tubes and pipes, both with and without welding, and the forming machines for their production.

Different types of industrial pipes

A metallic pipe is a cylindrical hollow section measurable in length, diameter and thickness, with specific mechanical and physical features based on the final use and application.

Tubes production is determined by 3 factors:

  • Construction method, manufacture process and intended use;
  • Materials that make up the raw material;
  • Dimensions such as diameter and thickness.

The first factor is crucial in the industrial production process, as there’s a technical difference between:

  • Pipes: on their inside usually flows a fluid or gas; they’re common in chemical, energy, food and automotive industry.
  • Tubes: designed for mechanical and structural applications with various sections (oval, square, rectangular, triangular, etc…)

Based on the manufacturing method, we can also suggest another categorization:

  • Welded tubes: these are the cheapest kind, available in a wide range of models. Welded tubes can be used in non-extreme operating conditions or to comply with precise tolerances, as in architectural projects or engineering.
  • Seamless tubes: a different technology is used in this process, that can guarantee a greater tolerance of both pressure and temperature. Seamless tubes are used in critical applications, for example in the oil and gas industry.

How metal pipe production works

The manufacture of industrial tubes and pipes can be carried out by different techniques and processes. Essentially, though, there are two main constructive methods, depending on whether welded or seamless tubes are made and on the raw material, that can be billets or sheets.

  • Welded tubes processing: the metal sheet or strip undergoes a cold rolling process that allows bending and forming in a specific section. This step is then followed by a longitudinal or helical welding phase, through pressure or fusion welding (MIG, TIG or plasma).
  • Seamless pipes processing: the billet is first transformed into a hollow profile, then stretched to reduce its diameter and thickness, and finally rolled or formed in order to obtain the needed dimensions. Two of the best known methods are the Mannesmann and Mandrel Mill processes.

Contrary to what one may think, welded tubes’ construction technology is newer than seamless tubes’, and was born as a cheaper alternative to the processing of tubes without welding for low pressure and temperature applications.

Over the years, the production of welded pipes has achieved considerable improvements, to the point of making the two types of tube almost identical in quality. In fact, through the modern machines for the production of tubes and pipes it is possible to realize:

  • Welded and approached tubes, open or closed, with advanced welding systems and with square, oval, half round, rectangular, triangular or non geometric sections;
  • Special and bimetallic tubes, with an internal core of metal or other materials, or with an internal filling powder inserted in the profiling phase;
  • Ribbed tubes, produced through combined unwinding, rolling and shearing or semi-finished products suitable for the forming of aggraffato.

INVIMEC: jewelry tube forming machines

INVIMEC has nearly 60 years of experience in designing machines for small production of precious metal tubes, such as gold, silver, palladium and platinum.

We realize multi-stand profiling systems for the production of basic tubes, combined machines for cold rolling and forming, and customized solutions for the special profiling of animated tubes.

Our DOUBLE machine is composed of two profiling and shearing systems for processing all types of pipes; whereas our 9HEADS macchine is a cold rolling and forming combined system. Moreover, SINGLE is our roll forming machine with cutters for the production of pipes and profiles; and finally HEKLA, our machine with 7 heads for the forming of welded pipes and aggraffato.

Feel free to contact us to design the forming machine that best suits your needs: for the processing of tubes and pipes in small and medium productions, in both precious and non-precious metal fields.