When attaching pipes, steam cylinders, and other various objects to one another, flanges are quite useful due to their ability to increase strength and contact areas for the benefit of attachment, inspections, and more. As a method for connecting parts, flanges come in the form of a lip, rim, or ridge that extends inwards or outwards from a component to aid in its assembly. As a feature found on items ranging from electrical connectors to aircraft components, it can be beneficial to have a general understanding of the design and use of flanges.
When designing flanges for pipe components, as an example, commonly used materials include stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, brass, bronze, and plastic. Forged carbon steel is often the most popular material, such surfaces being machined for the means of establishing a robust connection. While some flanges may be lined with a layer of material that differs from the base material, most flanges are constructed from the same material as the component itself.
Sizing and dimensions are also important, determining whether or not a component and its flange are suitable for a particular application. With a flanged bearing, such components are often specifically sized to meet the load requirements of an installation. Often, the size of the flange and bearing assembly
will depend upon the diameter of the mounted shaft, or the types of loads that are being undertaken. When larger radial or axial loads are present, a more heavy-duty flange assembly bearing may be needed. To make manufacturing and supply easier, flanges often are constructed to meet standards for sizing and other design characteristics. Many flanges fall under ASME and ASTM standards, the former commonly being used for describing dimensions, dimensional tolerances, and more.
Depending on one’s needs, there are a number of common flange designs, each featuring different construction and capabilities. Threaded flanges, or screwed flanges, are those that feature an internal thread on the bore which allows them to mate with another component. With threading, such flanges can facilitate a secure connection without the need for welding. For low-pressure and low-temperature applications, socket-weld flanges are best. Often used for piping systems, such flanges feature a point in which a pipe can be connected, and a single multi-pass fillet weld ensures the assembly stays in place.
For systems that move high amounts of substances through them, slip-on flanges are beneficial due to the wide range of sizes that they come in. To find a fit, a slip-on flange simply needs to match the outer diameter of the mating component. Despite this, welding is required for a connection to be established. When a system is to be isolated or terminated, blind flanges are a common choice. As boltable blank discs, such flanges may be paired with gaskets and attached to an assembly to form a secure seal. Beyond such types, other common designs may be taken advantage of such as lap joint flanges, weld neck flanges, and various specialty types.
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