Flanges are integral to the oil and gas industry, but they’re still a bit of a mystery to the average consumer. The piping systems that we rely upon today cannot function properly without flanges, yet they often are poorly maintained or bought in the wrong form. The more that is known about flanges, the less risk there will be that consumers invest in parts that don’t really work for them.
Below are some of the facts that you may not know about flanges. These key pieces of equipment can be challenging, but they are necessary for the continuing function of the pipeline industry.
1. Flanges Can Be Forged Or Cast
There are two different methods used for the creation of flanges. One is casting, while the other is forging. Both forged and cast flanges can work well, but each of the production method has advantages and disadvantages.
Cast products are essentially created when molten metal is poured into a mold or vessel in order to create the desired shape. Forged products are created when steel ingots or billets are exposed to mechanical and thermal pressures, which manipulate them into different shapes.
The main issue with cast flanges is that they are more prone to internal defects. This means that they cannot be used in extremely high-pressure situations, as they may fail suddenly with no warning. Due to their risk of internal flaws, cast flanges are also more likely to be heavily affected by corrosion.
In contrast, forged flanges are not only more reliable, but ultimately able to withstand more pressure. Forged parts actually have 37% higher fatigue strength, which means that they last longer. Therefore, it’s better to invest in high-strength forged products as they are usually better long term investments when used within high-pressure applications.
2. Flanges Come In Many Different Forms
Typically, flange distributors will offer many different types of flanges. There is no single type of flange that is right for every situation. Rather, they need to be selected carefully. If the wrong flange is used in a project, it will fail. Some of the popular types of pipe flanges include blind, weld neck, slip-on, lap joint, threaded, socket, and orifice flanges. Each of these serves a different purpose.
An orifice flange, for example, is meant to house an orifice meter that can track the flow speed within a pipe. This makes it one of the more complex forged parts on the market. On the other hand, a blind flange is considered one of the simplest flange designs. It’s little more than a disk used to block the opening of a pipe, with its main difference being that it lacks an opening in the center through which fluid can flow.
If multiple types of products are needed for one project, it’s wise to work with a single distributor for all of them. This helps avoid sourcing issues and ensures that all of the products are made with the exact same quality standards.
3. Flanges Are Made From Many Different Materials
Lots of materials are used to create this product, including carbon steel and stainless steel, as well as aluminum, cast iron, bronze, and even plastic. At times, different materials may be used to create the same single flange. This is because such products are known as lined flanges, and are essentially built on internal layers of different lining materials. The performance of a product can be affected by the materials used, but the production process is just as important.
4. Flanges Offer Different Material Grades
It’s important to know that the product you’re buying is of the correct material grade. Otherwise, it can be far too easy for you to buy a flange that is not suitable for your project. The material grade comes in a combination of numbers and letters and is indicative of the use, mechanical properties, and chemical composition of a product. Study material grades carefully before making a purchase decision.
Without the correct flanges in place, a project can fail spectacularly, resulting in injury or even loss of life. Pay careful attention to the types of flanges being bought for a product, as well as where they came from and how they were made.