You've seen tubular steel products in action every day. They help you get to work safely, they help you shovel your driveway, and they're part of the bridges and roads you drive over during your commute. The tubing you've seen and interacted with has probably been round.
However, round is not the only tubing shape available. Square, rectangular, and oval are some other common shapes. Many applications also require unusual or unique tube shapes, including I-shaped, lemon-shaped, or star-shaped.
The tube itself needs to be formed and welded before the shape can be finalized - this starting point is known as the "mother tube." The mother tube is then pressed or otherwise shaped into the final product.
Depending on how unusual the shape is, your manufacturer may include a small charge for the engineering work needed to design the unique tube-forming tools/processes.
What affects the cost of your shaped tubing?
-Tightness of tolerances
-Additional engineering work
-Secondary operations (bending, fabrication, finishing)
If you want to save costs on non-standard tubing shapes, we recommend loosening your tolerances (if possible) and using the same manufacturer for your fabrication needs. Transport, idle time, and other delays from switching vendors will only add to your manufacturing costs and stress.
Further, the manufacturer who designed or formed your tubing will also understand how to provide secondary services without damaging or weakening the unique structure.
"Non-round" tubing refers to any tubular steel product that isn't circular in shape. So, even though oval tubing is technically "round," it falls under the category of non-round tubing.
Oval tubing is the easiest shape to form - it's simply pressed into the specified dimensions, with the weld seam placed wherever is most suitable for your application.
Square & Rectangular
Rectangular tubing is sent through a series of shaping dies that gradually form the mother tube into the final tube shape. As we mentioned above, the sharper you want the corners of your tubing, the more expensive it will be.
Flowers, octagons, stars, triangles - you name it, we can make it (as long as it's under 2" in diameter)!
Like standard shapes, the tubing is formed and welded into the "mother" round shape before it can be finalized. In the case of the x-shaped tubing below, it went from round to square, and then was formed into the "x" shape. Uncommon shapes may go through many different shaping processes to meet the client's requirements.
Most manufacturers who specialize in tube production should be able to make whatever shapes you need. If you're not sure, make sure to set up a consultation to discuss your needs beforehand.