When talking about sanitary pipe fittings, there are a lot of elements that come to mind from pipe sizes and the interior and exterior diameters to wall thickness, as well as the materials used. Here we’ll look at sanitary fittings and try to understand what it means by sanitary process piping.
What are Sanitary Pipe Fittings?
Also known as hygienic fittings and piping, sanitary fittings are components designed to complement sanitary tubing and valves in the production of beverage, medical, food, cosmetic, and biopharmaceutical products. The fittings are usually polished and made from stainless steel for the high-sterile environment.
Types of Sanitary Pipe Fittings
Fittings are often classified into four main categories and they can be different based on their immediate application. The categories include:
- Type of vessels
- Connection type
1.Types of Vessels
There are three types of vessels commonly used with sanitary fittings and they are pipe, tubes and hoses.
Pipes are pressure-tight hollow cylinders with varying rigidity and durability. They are nominally designed to have varying dimensions based on standard pipe schedules.
Tubes Tubes are much like pipes but how their dimensions are defined is what makes them different. Unlike pipes which are nominally defined, tubes and their fittings are specified with precise dimensions.
Hoses are pretty much different from tubes and pipes. First, they are made using several materials to create a flexible tube usually for transporting fluid.
How does a fitting attach to pipe, tube or hose? Fittings connections will vary based on their application.
- Ball and sleeve fittings
- Barbed fittings
- Cam-lock fittings
- Compression fittings
- Crimp fittings
- End fittings
- Luer locks
- Threaded fittings
- Push-on fittings
Sanitary pipe fittings can also be classified based on their function. This include:
- Fittings that change the direction of the flow such as adapter, coupling, sleeve, union, cap and plug
- Fittings which causes a change in pipe diameter include tee, elbow, wye and cross
- Specialized fittings such as nipple and sanitary valves
Three Main Types of Fitting Materials
When choosing sanitary fittings for your specific use, consider the construction material. The fitting material has to withstand constant high temperatures and corrosive conditions and allow sterilization. As earlier mentioned, your choice of fittings will depend on the type of vessels they are connected to.
Stainless steel is the most common fitting material due to its durability and superior corrosion resistance. However, this will also depend on the type of stainless steel because they are different. There are more than 100 grades of stainless steel. The majority are classified into five major groups in the family of stainless steels: austenitic, ferritic, martensitic, duplex, and precipitation-hardening.
Stainless steel fittings are ideal for sanitary processing environment because they don’t easily degrade even with thorough cleaning and sanitation procedures. Perhaps that’s why this material is widely used across various industries including food, medical and beverage.
Five of the most common applications for Stainless Steel 316 are laboratory equipment, jet engine parts, boat fittings, food and pharmaceutical processing equipment, and chemical containers.
Fittings made with polytetrafluoroethylene provides extreme corrosion protection and sanitized media. The fluorocarbon component of the material allows for superior thermal and electrical insulation. Adding fillers such as graphite and glass fibers to PTFE increase its dimensional stability and mechanical properties.
Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)
This is a fluorocarbon-based polymer with superior mechanical properties, high chemical resistance, high purity and low moisture absorption. These characteristics make PVDF a good material choice for fittings in a highly corrosive environment such as chemical production.