McHone Industries Blog

How Is Tubular Steel Made? | Tube Production Process

Tube production steel rolls

Let's take a look at the tube production process. Tubular Steel 101: How is it made?
This is where is all begins.

If you get a chance to tour the McHone facilities, you'll notice mountains of thin, rolled-up metal strips. Those are your diamonds in the rough.

Each of those metal strips will eventually be shipped off to clients across the U.S. Before they get to that stage, however, they have to be molded into the perfect tubes.

Tubular Steel 101: Tube Production

1. Rolling

tube production mill

We produce welded steel tubes rather than seamless. Today, welded tubes are just as strong and durable as seamless tubing, though that hasn't always been the case. Welded tubes are actually better for the majority of clients, as the production process is much more cost-effective.

Seamless tubes are produced by hollowing out a solid bar. Welded tubes are made from strips of metal that are rolled into a tube shape and then welded together. Only the most strength-intensive projects will require seamless steel tubes.

Rolling starts with the thin metal sheets pictured above. One long sheet will pass through a series of rollers, which slowly shape it into a perfect tube.

If you're familiar with roll forming, it's the same principle.

2. Welding

tube production welding

Once the metal is rolled, the edges need to be welded together. Tube welding is done with a machine welder in the tube production line. The tube passes directly from the rollers to the welding section (which can get very, very hot).

Once the edges are secured, the tube runs through a smoother that removes any harsh edges created by the weld.

tube production shaving
(You can see a metal scrap flying past the tube.)

At this point, we have a tube that resembles a finished product, but its journey isn't finished yet.

3. Treatment

tube production treatment

The tube enters this trough. The green liquid is used to cool and lubricate the tube for the final phases of the operation.

4. Shaping

tube production shaping

The tube now runs through rollers that press it into its designated shape. The four rollers above are used to create a square or rectangular tube. If the tube is within 0.5" to 2.5", we can create any shape our client needs.

5. Cutting

tube production cutting and quality control

Once the tube is shaped, it can finally be cut into uniform pieces. If our client needs non-standard tube lengths, the tubes get sent off to our Haven recut machine for additional attention.

Tubes are also checked for quality at each stage of production, fabrication, and finishing. The photo above shows the first quality control check.

Those are the basics of metal tube production.

It's pretty simple (at least for us humans). The machines do most of the work, and we make sure the machines are operating smoothly. The tubes also undergo a human quality check once they leave the machinery to ensure everything is running properly.

To see the tube production process in action, check out this video:

Thanks for reading!

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