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How Steel Pipe Is Made

Steel pipe is used in a wide variety of applications. These include water and sewerage systems, construction projects and oil refineries. Its strength and resistance to corrosion make it a popular choice for long-distance transmission of liquids or gases.

The process of making steel pipe begins with a slab of metal that is heated to 2,200°F. This heat causes scale to form on the surface of the slab. This scale must be removed through a chemical solution, washed and then rolled into large spools known as skelp. The skelp is then cut to the required length and welded together.

In the early days of pipe production, forging individual metal plates to make a tube was common. As the technology improved, welding techniques were developed to connect the edges of these plates. The oldest of these was forge welding, which dates back over 150 years.

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Forging allows a much larger amount of material to be joined at one time, making the production of pipe much faster than it would otherwise be. Today, a gas-shielded welding process called submerged arc welding (SAW) is most often used to manufacture steel pipe.

Once the pipe is welded together, it undergoes further processing. Measuring machines check the dimensions of the finished product, and it is then fitted with joints at each end. It is also inspected for quality with x-ray machines and pressure tested to ensure it can manage the forces that it will be subjected to.