Fittings and flanges made of copper, brass, or bronze represent the second-largest segment of this market. These products accounted for about 21% of sales in 2000. These fittings, flanges, and unions can be constructed of either cast brass or bronze, or wrought copper or alloy. Wrought copper and wrought copper alloy fittings, flanges, and unions made up the majority with $290 million in sales in 2000, or 71.4% of the copper, brass, or bronze fitting, flange, and union segment. Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity, while brass fittings are used for feed-water pipes where hard water makes steel pipes undesirable.
A significant percentage of metal fittings, flanges, and unions are made of a variety of different types of iron. Malleable iron encompasses the largest percentage, accounting for an estimated 11% of the entire market for metal fittings, flanges, and unions in 2000. Malleable iron is lighter in weight and resists shock, vibration, and rapid temperature changes. Gray iron accounted for an estimated 6.5% of the market for metal fittings, flanges, and unions in 2000. Gray iron is a form of cast iron, which is formed into graphite flakes that are imbedded within the metallic matrix. This allows the cast iron to readily absorb vibrations and it also possesses a self-lubrication feature. Ductile iron accounts for a very small percentage of the market.
Pipe coupling sales reached approximately $197 million in 2000, or 10% of the market. Couplings are used to connect two lengths of pipe, and they are generally made of wrought or cast metal or brass.
The market for metal fittings, flanges, and unions for piping systems is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% from 1998 to 2008, when it will reach a projected $2.6 billion.
Sidebar: U.S. Manufacturers' Sales Of Metal Fittings, Flanges, And Unions For Piping Systems, By Type($ Millions)
1987 1992 1997 2000E
and Unions 74.5 86.2 112.1 125.7
and Couplings 8.9 9.9 NA NA
Fittings and Flanges, Including
Reducers, Caps, etc. 118.2 101.3 138.4 154.7
and Couplings 35.1 12.1 NA NA
Union Fittings 27.4 32.5 45.1 50.3
and Unions 7.1 26.6 23.4 23.2
and Couplings 3.6 22.1 19.5 17.4
Copper, Brass, or Bronze, Including Solder and Threaded:
Cast Brass or Bronze Fittings,
Flanges, and Unions 136.6 107.6 101.4 116.0
Wrought Copper and Wrought
Copper Alloy Fittings,
Flanges, and Unions 286.1 215.4 267.9 290.0
Cast Carbon and Alloy Steel Fittings,
Flanges, and Unions 25.0 29.7 48.7 58.0
Forged Carbon, Alloy, and Stainless Steel
Fittings, Flanges, and Unions, Socket-Weld
or Threaded Type 155.6 189.3 204.5 220.4
Flanges, Butt-Weld Types:
Carbon Steel 52.6 56.5 60.0 63.8
Alloy Steel 2.5 16.7 9.1 9.7
Stainless Steel 15.8 29.8 45.7 51.2
Fittings, Butt-Weld Types
Carbon Steel 82.1 38.2 20.5 22.2
Alloy Steel 3.6 17.2 9.3 9.7
Stainless Steel 19.1 57.2 89.4 99.0
Total $1,404.3 $1,356.5 $1,761.2 $1,933.3
E = Estimate
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce; Business Trend Analysts,
Commack, N.Y., phone: 631-462-5454.