Manufacturing Process

This stainless steel pipes and fittings manufacturing plant is located in the United States and produces stainless steel pipes of various diameters and lengths and custom-made pipe fittings.13 It operates over 6240 h/yr to produce nearly 30 million pounds of pipe annually.

Raw materials used by the plant include coil and sheet metal stock, solvent-based marking ink, and protective plastic end caps. The two major operations in this plant, pipe and fitting formation and acid pickling, are described in this section.

28.5.2.1.1 Pipe and Fitting Formation

Stainless steel coil and sheet stock is unloaded and stored outdoors under protective cover. As it is needed, the coil stock is moved indoors by a forklift to one of six automatic tube mills where the sides of unrolled metal strips are curled up to form a continuous, cylindrical pipe. The seam of the resulting pipe is fused in an electric in-line welding operation. An abrasive saw is used to cut the continuously formed pipe to specified lengths; sections of poorly welded pipe are cut away.

Stainless steel sheet stock is used to form custom products such as tees, elbows, and reducers. The sheets are cut with a band saw or plasma torch into smaller pieces and custom formed into final product shapes using various forming and bending equipments.

All pipes and fittings are hardened in electric induction or gas annealing furnaces. After annealing, the pipes are water spray quenched or quenched in a water-filled tank outdoors, depending on their size.

The roughened ends of the pipe are manually deburred with an air grinder. Then the pipes are straightened as necessary and transported to the acid pickling process.

28.5.2.1.2 Acid Pickling

All pipes and fittings are transported to the pickling process in which an overhead crane is used to lower them into an acidic pickle liquor solution that chemically cleans and etches the black oxide surface layer resulting in a clean, rust-resistant pipe.

Each pipe is rinsed with water in one of two rinse tanks and is then mounted on a wash rack and manually sprayed with water in a second rinsing operation. After the pipes dry, they are labeled with a solvent-based ink spray jet and protective plastic caps are hammered onto the ends. The finished products are stored outdoors until they are shipped to customers.

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