A: The chemical makeup is very similar however, the biggest difference between A53 and A106 is pipe meeting the A106 standard can only be seamless. Pipe meeting the A53 standard can be seamless or welded.
So, in our industry, typically A53 refers to ERW and A106 refers to seamless pipe.
In the world of steel pipe, you’ll see a lot of numbers and abbreviations thrown around. A106, ASTM106, ASME SA 106, and so on. It can be confusing if you don’t know what all those abbreviations mean. As Jamie said, aside from the technical and scientific aspects of these two types of steel pipe, the difference is simple. All A106 steel pipe is seamless, but not all A53 pipe is—it can also be welded.
So why not just ask for seamless or welded steel pipe? Well, that comes down to those abbreviations we talked about. They indicate industry safety specifications or standards. In your experience purchasing PVF components such as steel pipe, fittings, and PVC pipe, you’ve seen the safety designation “ASTM.”
It will be followed by alphanumeric characters such as ASTM A106 or ASTM B194—but what do these even mean? Why are they important besides product indication?
ASTM stands for ASTM International, which also used to be known as the American Society for Testing and Materials. It’s an organization that develops industry standards used by institutions, manufacturers, and other organizations worldwide. ASTM is comprised of an all-volunteer staff of over 30,000 members from countries around the world. These members are engineers, scientists, chemists, PVF industry professionals, and other professions relevant to the field.
Why Does Steel Pipe Need To Be ASTM Certified?
For all intents and purposes, in the PVF industry, no one buys components like steel pipe that aren’t certified to ASTM standards. That is because the World Trade Organization, (WTO) sets criteria for manufacturing standards for every industry.
These standards are critical as civil engineering and design follow these standards and they are based on principles of engineering and systems architecture. Without these standards, there would be no conformity and it would lead to poor design and chaos.
Additionally, government entities at all levels depend on these safety standards to guarantee the consistency and quality of materials. Although the standards are voluntary, virtually all entities follow ASTM standards. When government authorities are using these standards in contracts, building codes, laws, and regulations—they are mandatory.
ASTM standards are important because they assist engineers, builders, and other professionals. They use the standards to evaluate the chemical, material, mechanical and other properties of steel pipe and other metal components. There are currently more than 10,000 standards across many different industries.
For your application, no matter the industry or needs, it’s crucial to know which ASTM standards are needed. Different environments and applications will require certain tolerances or metal characteristics. When making the investment in materials for a project, you need to be confident that what you choose will perform as intended. For example, by using steel pipe that meets ASTM standards for oil & gas transfer, you can guarantee application compatibility.
How Are These Standards Developed?
A standard is a data sheet that lists detailed requirements critical for the quality and safe deployment of materials. These materials are used in a wide range of sectors and include things like plastics, textiles, metals, and more.
Anyone interested can request for a new standard to be documented by ASTM International. A technical board of members drafts the standard that’s passed to a parent subcommittee. Once it passes the subcommittee, it’s viewable to all members to approve or object. Any objections within this process must be addressed and a decision made before moving to the next phase.
The ASTM International Committee on Standards is the committee that has to pass the standard and make it official. Part of the criteria they use is that ASTM procedures had to be followed properly and the proposal went through due process.
The due process ensures that all parties involved have input and that there are checks and balances between any competing parties and interests.
Comparing A106 & A53 Steel Pipe
Now that you have a bit of background on ASTM standards we can better explain the difference between A106 and A53 steel pipe.
Both of these types of pipe are the most commonly used steel pipe across all industries. Although the differences between them are few, they have a huge impact in regards to when and where each should be used.
To make sure you order the correct pipe and have it delivered in time for your project you need two things. A basic comprehension of both welded and seamless pipe and have all your project specifications in order.
A106 vs. A53 — The Rundown
If you’ve ever read the ASTM standards for A106 and A53 pipe, you realize just how closely they are related. Everything from their chemical makeup to the manufacturing process is very similar. However, the most defining difference is that A106 steel pipe must be seamless and A53 pipe can be both welded and seamless.
Welded steel pipe is created by curling a plate of steel into a cylindrical shape and sealing the edges together with a weld. On the other hand, seamless steel pipe is created by driving a rod through hot cylinder bars of steel. This creates the same shape but without a seam, hence the name.
The reason for the difference is mainly within the applications each pipe is suitable for. A53 is best used to transport water, steam, air, and even oil in low to medium pressure industrial applications. In many cases, it’s also used in a structural capacity.
A106 is manufactured especially for high-pressure and high-temperature applications, usually in power plants. A106 is preferred since they pose a much lower risk of failure than welded pipe.
Differences In Chemical Composition
In addition to how these two standards dictate how these types of pipes are manufactured it also results in slight chemical differences. The most important difference is the presence of silicon in A106 which A53 lacks.
Silicon is important as it adds a level of heat resistance it needs for the main applications A106 is used for.
Purchasing A106 or A53 Steel Pipe?
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