As the United States celebrates another Independence Day, it’s a good time to talk about big ideas like freedom and choice. For any business that uses pipe and structural steel in its projects, the idea of freedom comes down to a simple decision that many companies make without much thought: custom bends versus fittings. To be sure, fittings have a role in projects, but custom bends offer a level of flexibility that fittings can never entirely satisfy.
One Size Fits All?
Fittings are forged, mass produced products that cannot be custom ordered very easily. They typically have limited angles – such as 30°, 45° or 90° – and limited radii. Finding the right size fitting in the right material can be time consuming, costly and limited to stock on hand in a warehouse or parts center. Instead of conforming to the limitations of fittings, custom bends bring a wider range of options. It’s easier to route pipe around property lines and built in place structures.
Custom Bends are Cost Competitive
When you think of something as being mass produced versus custom created, you tend to think of the mass produced product as being less expensive but in the case of pipe fittings this is not necessarily true.
Engineering the Right Solution
Anyone who has had to work around the constraints of a fitting can attest to the benefits of custom bends. Not only do fittings require extra welds – which may need additional quality control measures (such as x-rays) – they also are typically heavier and incur additional agency scrutiny due to counterbore/transition issues at the fitting/pup or fitting connection. Custom bends can be welded straight to a pipeline without additional work and pipe ends can be tapered to match line pipe for easier fitup. In figure 1.0 below, we can see a comparison for a 5D Bend with 2’ Tangent and a 3D Fitting with No Tangent.