Differences Between Stainless Steel Pipe and Tube

Stainless steel pipes and stainless steel tubes are both products of the steel-making process. However, there are some distinct differences in their applications and features. The concept of stainless steel pipe and stainless steel tube is often confused.

It is essential to understand the differences between stainless steel pipe and tube in order to make the right decision for your project. Knowing the differences between the two materials can mean the difference between success and failure for any project.

Stainless steel pipe and tube both have unique characteristics that make them ideal for certain applications. While both are made from the same material, they are shaped differently and have distinct differences in strength, durability, and cost.

In this article, we will explore the distinctions between them, examine their various characteristics, and evaluate the cost considerations of each.

Get ready to understand the differences between stainless steel pipe and tube like never before!
stainless steel pipe and tube

Key Takeaways

- Stainless steel pipes are used for conveying fluids and gases, while stainless steel tubes are used for structural purposes.

- Pipes are usually thicker and stronger than tubes, making them better suited for high-pressure conditions.

- Tubes have thinner walls and more flexible joints, making them better suited for low to medium-pressure applications.

- Pipes are typically available in standard sizes, while tubes are custom-made and can be square, rectangular, or round in shape.


Stainless Steel Pipe are classified based on their schedule and nominal diameter. Typically, pipes are ordered using the Nominal Pipe Size (NPS) standard, specifying a nominal diameter (pipe size) and a schedule number (wall thickness). It's important to note that the schedule number can be the same for pipes of different sizes, but their actual wall thickness will vary.

In contrast, stainless steel tubes are typically ordered based on their outside diameter and wall thickness. However, they can also be ordered as OD & ID or ID and Wall Thickness. The strength of a tube is determined by its wall thickness, which is defined by a gauge number. Smaller gauge numbers indicate larger outside diameters.

It's worth mentioning that the inside diameter (ID) of a tube is theoretical. Unlike pipes, tubes can come in various shapes such as square, rectangular, and cylindrical, whereas piping is always round. The circular shape of pipes allows for even distribution of pressure forces. Pipes are suitable for larger applications, with sizes ranging from ½ inch to several feet, while tubing is typically used in applications requiring smaller diameters.
stainless steel pipe

Common Types of stainless steel pipe and tube

Stainless steel pipe and stainless steel tubes can be classified into different types according to their composition. These types include austenitic, ferritic, duplex, and martensitic.

Austenitic stainless steel pipe and tubes are highly corrosion-resistant and find applications in various industries. They are commonly used in food and beverage processing, cryogenic applications, and in heat exchangers.

Ferritic stainless steel pipe and tubes, on the other hand, are magnetic and have better weldability compared to austenitic types. This makes them a popular choice in industries where welding is a crucial part of the manufacturing process.

Duplex stainless steel pipe and tubes combine the properties of both austenitic and ferritic stainless steel tubes. This combination provides increased strength and corrosion resistance, making them suitable for demanding applications.

Martensitic stainless steel pipe and tubes contain high levels of chromium, which gives them their characteristic strength and hardness. They are commonly used in applications that require superior mechanical properties.

It is important to note that each type of stainless steel tube has its own unique advantages and should be chosen based on the specific requirements of the application.

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Stainless steel pipe and tubes differ in a few key characteristics. These include shape, measurement, telescoping abilities, and rigidity. These variations can affect their application in different scenarios. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between them.


Pipes are generally round, whereas tubes can be square, rectangular or round. Pipes are typically cylindrical and tend to have thicker walls than tubes. On the other hand, tubes have a more tubular shape and are usually made with thinner walls. Additionally, pipes have straight, uniform walls, while tubes have walls that can have varying thicknesses.

Lastly, pipes typically have threaded ends and are used to transport liquids and gases, while tubes are used for structural applications and can have flared or beaded ends.


Building on the shape differences, measuring the inner and outer diameter of stainless steel pipes and tubes is another way to classify them. Pipes are measured by their inside diameter (ID) using a nominal size system, while tubes are measured by their outside diameter (OD).

In other words, a pipe has a larger inside diameter, and the walls of the pipe are usually thicker than a tube. Both pipes and tubes have a wide range of sizes and wall thicknesses, but pipes are usually available in standard sizes, while tubes are usually custom-made to meet the needs of the project.
stainless steel pipe size

Telescoping Abilities

Building on the difference in measuring stainless steel pipes and tubes, another distinction lies in their telescoping abilities. Stainless steel pipes can be connected together to create a longer pipe, while tubes can be telescoped into each other to create a longer tube. This is due to the differences in their shapes and sizes.


How does the rigidity of stainless steel pipe and tube compare?

Generally, pipes are much more rigid than tubes. Pipes are usually made with thicker walls than tubes, and their rigidity is further improved by welding the joints. This makes them better suited for applications requiring high-pressure conditions.

On the other hand, tubes are generally made with thinner walls and more flexible joints, making them better suited for applications where the pressure is low or medium.

Both pipes and tubes are also available in different grades of stainless steel, and the rigidity of each grade will vary depending on the alloy composition.


Stainless Steel tubes find application in various fields, including medical devices, where a precise outer diameter is crucial. This dimension is significant as it directly reflects the tube's capacity to maintain stability.

Conversely, stainless steel pipes are utilized for the transportation of gases and liquids, making it essential to understand their carrying capacity. The circular shape of pipes greatly enhances their efficiency in withstanding the pressure exerted by the flowing liquid.


Stainless steel pipes can come in various diameters, ranging from ½ inch up to 48 inches, and in a variety of wall thicknesses.

Stainless steel tubes are usually measured by their outside diameter and wall thickness. The most common sizes for stainless steel tubes are 1/8 inch up to 12 inches in diameter, with wall thicknesses ranging from 0.035 inch to 0.500 inch. 
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One of the most notable characteristics of stainless steel pipes and tubes is their superior strength. Both materials offer excellent resistance to corrosion, heat, and pressure, but in different ways. 

Stainless steel pipes are typically thicker and heavier than tubes, making them more durable and able to withstand greater pressure. Stainless steel tubes are usually thinner and lighter, allowing them to be more easily formed and manipulated into a variety of shapes.


Although stainless steel pipes and tubes may share similar characteristics, there are distinct differences between them that should be taken into consideration when making a purchasing decision. Factors such as size, material grade, and quantity can all affect the price of both tubes and pipes. Here are four key takeaways to consider:

1. Pipes and tubes are not interchangeable and must be used for their intended purpose.

2. Stainless steel tubes are typically smaller in diameter and thicker-walled than pipes.

3. Pipes are typically cheaper than tubes due to their larger diameter and thinner walls.

4. Specialty pipes and tubes are often more expensive due to their need for customized materials and fabrication.

Ultimately, it is important to take all of these factors into consideration when choosing between pipes and tubes. Whether you are looking for a cost-effective solution or something tailored to a specific need, understanding the differences between pipes and tubes can help you make the best purchasing decision for your project.

Stainless steel pipe and tube offer a range of benefits and are suitable for various applications. They are both corrosion-resistant and cost-effective, making them a popular choice for many industries.

By understanding the differences between them, and considering the characteristics of each, manufacturers and customers can select the best product to meet their needs.

Ultimately, stainless steel pipe and tube are reliable, robust, and resilient materials that offer a myriad of advantages.

Contact the Experts at Vinmay Stainless Steel

Foshan Vinmay Stainless Steel Co.,ltd is a large scale international enterprise which concentrates on producing stainless steel welded tubes  and the related fittings. With the large-scale production capacity , advanced equipment and technology, Vinmay has been offering high quality  and value added products and service to the client all over the world. 
Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and explore how Vinmay can contribute to your success.

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