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What is the difference between steel tubes and steel pipes?

Many people confuse steel pipes and steel tubes to be the same thing and often use them interchangeably. However, a steel pipe and a steel tube are different from each other in a lot of ways. Starting from the procedure with which they are manufactured to their usage and shape – there are a lot of things that differentiate them.

Read on to know what factors distinguish them.

  • Thickness

    The thickness factor will easily help you comprehend the difference between a steel pipe and a steel tube. For a steel pipe, knowing the wall thickness or as it is called the “schedule thickness” is quite important as it defines its strength. Owing to their usage in gas and fluid transportation, it becomes necessary to know the inner diameter of the steel pipe that will determine their capacity. The thickness of a steel tube is measured in gauge if it’s thin and in fractions of an inch or millimeter if it’s thick.

  • Measurement

    The ways to measure these two are poles apart because of their usage. When it comes to pipes, the inner diameter is considered. The distance between the opposite points of the inner circle (the circle excluding the thickness) is called the inner diameter. For tubes, the outside diameter is measured which is the diameter between the opposite points of the outside of the tube (the circle including the thickness).

  • Tolerance level

    In comparison to the steel pipes, steel tubes have compacted manufacturing tolerance. The same ensures that they fit and perform efficiently.

  • Usage

    Because of their strength and compacted manufacturing tolerance, tubes are primarily employed in constructional purposes, engineering and automobile manufacturing. Whereas, the steel pipes are used as passageways for transmitting fluids and gases from one place to another.

  • Shape

    There is a difference in the shape of a steel pipe and tube. A steel tube is not necessarily always round. As they are employed for structural purposes, they can be square or rectangular as well. On the other hand, pipes always come in round shape. It’s quite tough to mould them. The steel pipes are pressure rated to keep the leakages at bay as they are used in transporting gases and liquids.

  • Production procedure

    The manufacturing process for both the steel pipes and steel tubes vary a lot. The steel pipes are of two types – welded or seamless. When raw steel is made into a pipe by stretching, a seamless pipe is formed and when the edges are forced together and sealed with a weld, welded pipe is formed. The process is easier and less time consuming as compared to the making of steel tubes. When it comes to steel tubes, a lot of processes, tests, inspections are performed during the production process.

  • Cost

    The production of steel tubes is lower as compared to steel pipes. Also, the manufacturing process of steel tubes has stricter requirements in terms of tolerances and inspections along with requiring more energy and labour. Hence, the price of steel tubes is higher than steel pipes.