Difference between Pipes and Tubes

Pipes and tubes are not the same

Pipes

The purpose with a pipe is the transport of a fluid like water, oil or similar, and the most import property is the capacity or the inside diameter.

nps dn pipes

For a ASME/ANSI B 36.10 Welded and Seamless Wrought Steel Pipe the inside diameter - ID - of a NPS 2 inches pipe with 

  • schedule 40 is 2.067"
  • schedule 80 is 1.939"

The inside diameters are close to 2" and the nominal diameter related to the inside diameter. Outside diameter are 2.375" for both schedules.

Since the outside diameter of a single nominal pipe size is kept constant the inside diameter of a pipe will depend on the "schedule" or the thickness of the pipe. The schedule and the actual thickness of a pipe varies with the size of the pipe.

It is common to identify pipes in inches by using NPS or "Nominal Pipe Size". The metric equivalent is called DN or "diametre nominel". The metric designations conform to International Standards Organization (ISO) usage and apply to all plumbing, natural gas, heating oil, and miscellaneous piping used in buildings. The use of NPS does not conform to American Standard pipe designations where the term NPS means "National Pipe Thread Straight".

Nominal Bore (NB) may be specified under British standards classifications along with schedule (wall thickness).

The tolerances are looser to pipes compared with tubes and  they are often less expensive to produce.

Tubes

The nominal dimensions of tubes are based on the outside diameter. If we look at Copper Tubes - ASTM B88 the outside diameter of a 2" pipe is 2.125", relatively close to 2".

nps dn tubes

The inside diameter of a tube will depend on the thickness of the tube. The thickness is often specified as a gauge. If we look at Copper Tubes - ASTM B88 the wall thickness of 0.083"of a 2" pipe is gauge 14.

The tolerances are higher with tubes compared to pipes and tubes are often more expensive to produce than pipes.

Related Topics

  • Dimensions - Sizes and dimensions of pipes and tubes, and their fittings - inside and outside diameter, weight and more

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