Steel flanges, the common elements in the construction of communications (thus, almost any pipe is connected with the flange), despite the apparent simplicity pass a range of stages to come out from the assembly line. On the basis of the vital functions delegated to such elements, the production of flanges is always associated with strict quality control and advanced equipment usage, as disturbances in technology may lead to malfunctions of the whole pipeline, brings the catastrophic losses.
If a manufacturer doesn’t comply with the technological requirements, the processing of finished flanges on lathes would be impossible, as the incisors will not be able to cope with the hardness of the products. Therefore, heat treatment is a must in the production of high-alloy steel to avoid inability for further processing.
Flanges are typically produced basing on variety of technologies, including forging, stamping, casting, as well as cutting of rolled steel. All of them have strong suits and weak points, though globally the circle of production approaches is narrowed to a couple of methods.
Methods of flanges production
One of the most technologically advanced production methods flanges is forging. The undoubted advantages of the method are its simplicity, reliability, and a relatively low cost of preparation process (making matrix). However, semimanufactures, the essential products needed for forged flanges productions, constantly fluctuating in price (in this case the low prices are almost excluded), and each flange size needs its own forging form, which significantly affects the price, especially in the conditions of small batches orders. However, the method allows producing metal flanges of unparalleled quality, and innovative firms are making their choice in favor of this method. Thus, the leading UK manufacturers, e.g. AlexanderComley, set before forging stainless steel flanges and tubesheets production method.
Another popular method whereby production occurs flanges – a stamping. Most of all, this method is suitable for large batches and has a high degree of reliability. However, for each flange size is necessary to select its own stamp, but also the product itself is made only from high-grade steel, which leads to appreciation of the finished product.
Another technological method is cutting flanges. This method is valued for impressive cost-efficiency, while its main disadvantage – the size of the flange depends on the operating range of the bending machine. Technologically the approach is suitable for flat flanges only; in addition, it is also far from being extremely productive.
Casting is the third popular production method, allowing producing flanges of any size with all the necessary parameters for different goals and objectives. Casting method includes chill casting, injection molding and especially centrifugal electroslag casting. This method uses a metal as a raw material, which greatly reduces the economic cost of the metal, but the cost of molds remains pretty high.
The choice of method of production of flanges (as well as related equipment, e.g. butt weld fittings, as stated by AlexanderComley professionals) implies considering, first of all, the degree of economic feasibility. Therefore, before signing a contract for providing the costly equipment, a savvy company will almost always initiate an audit to figure out the best options. Thus, before defining the process, the business is likely to work in tight collaboration financiers, strategists and top management.