Tech Tubes & Fittings

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Common Tube Fittings Types

Tube fittings designed to connect a tube to pipe threads are called connectors. Tube fittings designed to connect one tube to another are called unions:

  Male ConnectorFemale ConnectorTube Union

If a tube union joins together different tube sizes rather than tubes of the same size, it is called a reducing union.

A variation on the theme of tube connectors and unions is the bulkhead fitting. Bulkhead fittings are designed to fit through holes drilled in panels or enclosures to provide a way for a fluid line to pass through the wall of the panel or enclosure. In essence, the only difference between a bulkhead fitting and a normal fitting is the additional length of the fitting “barrel” and a special nut used to lock the fitting into place in the hole. The following illustration shows three types of bulkhead fittings:

Bulkhead Male ConnectorBulkhead Female ConnectorBulkhead Union 

Tubing elbows are tube connectors with a bend. These are useful for making turns in tube runs without having to bend the tubing itself. Like standard connectors, they may terminate in male pipe thread, female pipe threads, or in another tube end:

Male Elbow Female ElbowUnion Elbow

These elbows shown in the above illustration are all 90 deg, but this is not the only angle available 45 deg elbows are also common.

Tee fittings join three fluid lines together. Tees may have one pipe end and two tube ends (branch tees and run tees), or three tube ends (union tees). The only difference between a branch tee and a run tee is the orientation of the pipe end with regard to the two tube ends:

Male Branch TeeFemale Branch Tee Union Tee

branch and run tee fittings also come in female pipe thread versions as well. A variation of the theme of union tees is the cross, joining four tubes together:                                        

Union Cross

Special tube fittings are made to terminate tube connections, so they are sealed up instead of open. A piece designed to seal off the open end of a tube fitting is called a plug, while a piece designed to seal off the end of an open tube is called a cap:

Tube CapEnd Cap


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