Different Types of Elbows

Across pressure piping systems, fluids flow in many directions, requiring special tubing to allow for smooth change from one direction to another. Unlike classic, straight pipes, elbows are designed with a bend, and they connect to two pipes on either end which may have the same or different diameter. While useful, employing an elbow also comes with added factors to consider, as flow direction impacts system pressure due to fluid impact, friction, and re-acceleration. Given their varying designs, this blog will take a closer look at different types of elbows and their unique functions.

Also known as bends, elbows are most often made from steel and may be classified by four defining factors; the first factor to consider is the direction of the angle. These classifications refer to the angle by which fluid will change direction after passing through the elbow. As such, the most common designs are 45 degree, 90 degree, or 180 degree angles, but 60 degree and 120 degree elbows are also available for procurement involving special pipelines.

The second category of classifications includes elbow radius and length, and both measurements determine the distance over which fluid changes direction. The length refers to the measurement of the center line from one face to the other. This is known as the “center to face” distance and is equivalent to the radius through which the elbow is bent, meaning it is not to be confused with the radius of the elbow’s hole. The radius the elbow bends around may be the same as the pipe diameter, in which case the elbow is referred to as a Short Radius Elbow (SR elbow). If the radius is larger than the pipe diameter, it is referred to as a High Radius Elbow (HR elbow), and they are used for higher pressure applications.

A third factor to consider is the way the elbow connects with other pipes, falling into one of three categories: butt welded, socket welded, or threaded. The first two designs are both welded into the pipe system, while threaded elbows are used for situations needing removable connections. Typically allowing for full penetration welds, butt welded elbows are mainly used for applications with higher pressures and temperatures.

A final, important consideration for procuring an elbow is the material from which it is made. Although most are a form of steel, nickel alloy elbows are also popular choices. That being said, common steel materials include stainless steel, carbon steel, low temperature carbon steel, alloy steel, and duplex steel.

Other, less common designs you may consider include reducing elbows, male pipe elbows, and female pipe elbows. Reducing elbows are designed to join pipes of two different sizes, offering two ends with different sized holes. Meanwhile, male and female elbows are designed to work in tandem with a pipe threaded with the opposite design.

Regardless of which elbow you require for your applications, it is important to procure all items from an accredited distributor like Methodical Purchasing. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we are a leading online distributor of over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find part types from manufacturers that we have previously approved. Operating with around-the-clock service, our team of market experts is readily available to formulate a custom quote for any item that piques your interest, so get started with us today by submitting a Request for Quote (RFQ) form with as much detail as possible. Using information like your shipping deadlines, desired quantities, and more, we are better able to tailor your quote to fit your needs. To learn more, contact us at any time via phone or email, 24/7x365.


September 22, 2022

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