PROCESS PIPING PRODUCTS

Mechanical Piping Connectors Explored

Looking at popular options for mechanical pipe connections when welding, flanging, and threading options may not be best suited.

Typically, when you want to connect two pipes within a processing system, you probably think of welding or flanges.

These methods certainly provide a highly configurable, reliable means of connecting pipes big and small. However, they’re not always possible.


They can make maintenance or repairs a costly process–both in time and money.

Mechanical piping connectors offer a compelling alternative to these traditional connection methods, providing easy implementation, reliable performance, and options to suit nearly any piping size imaginable.

Are mechanical piping connectors suitable for your needs? Keep reading to learn more!

Why Use Mechanical Piping Connectors?

We have already touched briefly on the benefits of mechanical piping connections.

However, this warrants a deeper look to understand if it is a viable option for your piping process.

Two areas where mechanical piping connectors excel are when used in systems which require frequent disassembly or maintenance and when used in scenarios where piping configurations might change periodically.

Instead of cutting pipes and rewelding or unscrewing threaded connections (and possibly placing increased stress on other components), mechanical piping connectors make it possible to secure pipes, fittings, and other components with just a few screws or bolts.

Some even use press fittings, allowing you to skip the fasteners entirely and just use a specialized tool to accomplish the task in a few steps. However, this simplicity comes at the cost of adaptability as the pressed mechanical connection becomes permanent.

This simple, mechanical approach means disassembly and reassembly can take just minutes depending on the configuration of your piping system and the processes performed.

It also minimizes the risk of damage to piping and other components due to ease of use and the minimal tools required.

Some even allow for wrap-around installation, allowing you to install them without significantly altering the piping design.

Popular Mechanical Piping Connector Types

Mechanical piping connectors use a range of designs to accomplish their goals.

Each mechanical pipe coupling manufacturer will have various approvals specific to the industries they focus their products. Check to confirm the connector you purchase has a valid certificate or required specifications for your application.

Let’s look at the mechanical piping connector styles of three of the industry's most popular mechanical pipe connector designs.

Grooved End Compression Pipe Joining Systems

Grooved pipe joining systems are some of the most popular and oldest options available today.

With solutions suited for extreme situations and nearly any industry, there’s a good chance you can find a grooved end piping system product which will work with your processes and environmental variables within the temperature range of available elastomer gasket grades.

While exact processes will vary by brand, these systems utilize grooved pipe ends and couplers to create a dependable seal between joined pieces.


Grooves are added using a grooving tool providing added flexibility.

Since these tools don’t require complete system dismantling to function, you can implement grooved pipe end solutions in existing piping systems with minimal training requirements or system downtime.

Once pipes or fittings are grooved, connecting components is as simple as aligning the coupler and tightening the fasteners.

The design also allows for full rotation of all components before tightening to ease alignment difficulties and help streamline implementation.

Most brands offer two different types of grooved couplings—flexible or rigid.

This makes managing system stresses and dealing with movement, expansion, contraction, and other critical variables easier.

Options are available for pipe diameters ranging from 2-inches to 144-inches to allow for use in virtually any industry and systems of all sizes.

NOTE: A benefit of grooved end systems is the ability to use grooved ends on other piping components. Popular makers often offer a range of prefabricated grooved end ball valves, check valves, gate valves, elbows, tees, nipples, expansion joints, and other essential components. This allows you to quickly expand or modify systems without needing on-site tooling by keeping spares available for rapid repair and deployment.

Press Fit Compression Pipe Joining Systems

Press fit compression pipe joining systems are ideal for use with Schedule 10S Type 304/304L, 316/316L stainless steel pipe and provide a reliable seal without flame or arc.

There’s also no need for cutting oils or additional pipe preparation as required by threading or grooved pipe connections.

Specialized compression tools allow you to attach the coupling in seconds easily without needing air compressors, electrical cables, or other additional tools or materials.

When used correctly, press fit compression pipe joining systems can meet ASME requirements and ratings for ANSI Class 150 systems for water, oil, gasses and general chemical services and are pressure rated up to a maximum of 500 psi/3450 kPa on schedule 10S stainless pipe.

Press fit compression pipe joining systems for Schedule 10S Type 304/316 couplings and fittings are recommended for varying concentrations of hot petroleum/water mixtures, hydrocarbons, air with oil vapours, vegetable and mineral oils, as well as automotive fluids such as engine oil and transmission fluid, and raw and potable waters—consult your product supplier for applicable gasket.

Temperature tolerances range from -34C (-30F) to 149C (300F), depending on the seal material selected.

You’ll also find models ANSI/NSF 61 Annex G Certified for ambient (23C/74F) and hot (82C/180F) potable water service for Grade H, E, and O seal materials, depending on your needs.

This makes them a flexible, easy-to-implement solution for piping systems of various capacities, sizes, and pressure levels.

Plain End Compression Pipe Joining Systems

These couplers work similarly to the previously discussed grooved end coupler design–however, they require no grooves!

You can securely join two pipes without flanging, grooving, welding, or threading.

Simply slide the plain end compression pipe joining system over the ends of both pipes you wish to join and tighten the fasteners.

Plain end compression pipe joining systems are ideal for rapid installation in emergency scenarios while also providing a solid seal and reliable enough performance for long-term use in a wide range of civil, water, oil and gas, marine, building service, processing, and automotive industry uses, and raw and potable waters—consult your product supplier for applicable gaskets.

The simple design makes the couplers easy to install while also providing adaptable sizing ranging from 21mm (0.82in) to 4200mm (165in) in diameter.


Couplers are available in two main configurations.

One design is axially restrained, preventing the two pipes from pushing apart under pressure or pulling away under end-load.

The other is non-axially restrained and designed for use with already anchored pipes.

Since these couplers are not responsible for containing pipeline forces, they’re easily deployed on larger diameter pipes–up to 4m (157in.).

These are also available in wrap-around configurations in addition to the standard slip over the pipe end design.

While specific design elements will vary between manufacturers and coupler models, most designs consist of a casing, a gasket and a lockpart.

The casing houses the gasket and presses it onto the pipe surface once the lockpart is engaged.

The lockpart pulls the two ends of the casing together circumferentially around the pipe.

Choose couplings with clear torque figure labels for added operational security and easy installation.

This will ensure that the gasket is compressed sufficiently against the pipe surface without needing to refer to datasheets or product specifications every time you utilize a coupler.

Summary

  • Mechanical pipe connectors provide a flexible, reliable means of connecting pipes of all sizes without flame or welding.
  • Mechanical piping connectors offer a compelling alternative to these traditional connection methods, providing easy implementation, reliable performance, and options to suit nearly any piping size imaginable.
  • Mechanical piping connectors excel when used in systems which require frequent disassembly or maintenance and when used in scenarios where piping configurations might change periodically.
  • Grooved end connection systems utilize grooved pipe ends and shouldered couplers to create a dependable seal between joined pieces.
  • Once pipes or fittings are grooved, connecting components is as simple as aligning the coupler and tightening the fasteners.
  • Two types of grooved couplings—flexible or rigid—also provide added ability to manage system stresses and deal with movement, expansion, contraction, and other critical variables.
  • Press fit couplers utilize a special tool to attach couplings in minutes easily.
  • When used correctly, the press fit couplers can meet ASME requirements and ratings for ANSI Class 150 systems for water, oil, gases and general chemical services and feature pressure ratings up to a maximum of 500 psi/3450 kPa.
  • These Schedule 10S Type 304/316 couplings and fittings are recommended for varying concentrations of hot petroleum/water mixtures, hydrocarbons, air with oil vapours, vegetable and mineral oils, as well as automotive fluids such as engine oil and transmission fluid, and raw and potable waters—consult your product supplier for applicable gaskets.
  • Compression couplers work similarly to grooved end coupling designs–however, they require no grooves! This means you can securely join two pipes without locating flanges, grooves and welding or threading position.
  • Options are available in axially restrained and non-axially restrained configurations.
  • Non-axially restrained models are also available in a wrap-around design for installation without cutting the pipe.

Unified Alloys is a leader in piping products throughout Canada and North America. Our extensive selection and decades of experience allow us to assist companies large and small across a variety of industries. Contact us today to discuss your needs and our expert sales analysts can help you find the ideal mechanical piping connectors for your project!