The Difference Between Tubes, Pipes, and Hoses

When carrying materials such as fluids over distances, one will commonly employ the use of hoses, tubes, and pipes. While serving similar roles and being fairly close in appearance, there are important differences between each. As such, one should have familiarity with such part types so that they can properly establish and maintain their systems or equipment. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of each so that you can best understand their differences and capabilities.

While some use the terms “tube”, “pipe”, and “hose” interchangeably, there are indeed certain features that set each apart from one another. Generally, these come down to their applications, standards, sizing terminology, and the material makeup of each. The use of each part type is one of their biggest differences as each has its own unique role.

Tubes are often used for structures rather than always transporting materials. This allows them to be manufactured in diverse shapes such as squares, rectangles, and various custom designs. Additionally, the application that a tube serves and its materials will also affect the standards that must be upheld, common ones being from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and ASTM International.

Pipes, meanwhile, are primarily relied on for the transportation of fluids or gases. For their jurisdiction, pipes typically follow standards as set by those such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). B36.10M and B36.19M are both common standards, each of which offers reference tables for the proper manufacturing of pipes.

Hoses are fairly flexible in their applications, being capable of playing various roles depending on one’s needs. Furthermore, their standardization is also diverse. Often produced from nylon, rubbers, and various other non-metallic materials, hoses do not serve structural or pipeline applications. Rather, they may be used to hold and transfer air, water, hydraulic fluids, brake fluids, fuel, and much more.

When it comes time to source the various tubes, pipes, and hoses you require, understanding the different sizing terminology of each can be beneficial. Tubes are generally measured in regard to outside diameter, inside diameter, and wall thickness schedule. Pipes, meanwhile, are measured in terms of wall thickness and nominal pipe diameter. Lastly, hoses may be measured by finding the inside diameter of such equipment.

For their materials and manufacturing, tubes and pipes are fairly similar. Often, steel and stainless steel materials are popular, and the processes that both part types follow for formation are comparable. Despite this, their manufacturing requirements differ with tubes often being upheld to much stricter specifications for their thickness, straightness, and roundness. Hoses, on the other hand, are often constructed from softer materials such as rubber and PTFE, meaning that their manufacturing process is quite different.

With a better understanding of each equipment type, the sourcing process can be much easier as you narrow down your exact needs. At Infinite Industrials, we are unmatched in our ability to provide competitive pricing and rapid lead-times, ensuring that we save our customers time and money on every order. With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts ready for purchase at any time, we invite you to explore our inventory at your leisure.

Due to our strict adherence to quality control measures and export compliance practices, we proudly conduct operations with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. Furthermore, we can also meet the time constraints of our customers, taking advantage of our supply chain network to expedite shipping for international and domestic orders alike. If you have any questions regarding our offered services or are ready to kickstart the procurement process, give our team members a call or email at your earliest convenience, and they would be more than happy to assist you. 


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