Many pneumatic conveying system designers use stainless steel bends simply because they’re a common choice. But unless your products are particularly corrosive or need to be conveyed at extremely low temperatures, you might be inflating your maintenance costs for very little gain.

One popular alternative is carbon steel bends. The addition of carbon gives these steel bends extraordinary durability and abrasion resistance even when using less material. That means you can maintain high product quality and extend your system lifespan even while keeping costs down.

How is carbon steel made?

When iron is heated to a high temperature, it also dissolves carbon in the environment. This carbon would usually separate from the iron upon cooling. But if the liquid metal is cooled very quickly by quenching it in water, the carbon becomes trapped inside, forming carbon steel.

Most carbon steel has a carbon content of up to 2%. Increasing the carbon content further causes the steel to become cast iron instead. This material is much harder and denser, but also much more brittle because of its impurities.

Benefits of carbon steel bends

  • Exceptional strength: Rapidly cooling liquid steel that has a high carbon content distorts the crystal lattice of the material. This makes it significantly harder and improves its ability to resist stress and abrasion. For this reason, carbon steel bends can stay in your system much longer before they need replacing, letting you save money on replacements.
  • High heat resistance: Of all the known chemical elements, carbon has the highest melting point. This gives carbon steel bends the ability to comfortably resist operational temperatures of more than 400oC. As such, carbon steel bends can perform reliably in high-heat applications without bending or deforming.
  • Cost-effective: Carbon steel is around 2.5x denser than materials like aluminum. Combined with its superior strength, this means the walls of carbon steel bends can be made quite thin without sacrificing performance. Since they require less material to manufacture, carbon steel bends are typically cheaper than stainless steel or aluminum options.
  • Readily available: As carbon steel is one of the most popular materials for pneumatic conveying components, it’s very easy to source carbon steel bends. That means you can easily order and stock up on replacement parts without worrying about long lead times or lack of supplier inventory. In fact, the majority of the bends manufactured and supplied by PneuComponents are made of carbon steel.

Drawbacks of carbon steel bends

  • Prone to rust: Although carbon steel contains chromium, there isn’t enough to form a protective chromium oxide layer. That means oxygen can bond with the iron to create iron oxide, more commonly known as rust. Therefore, carbon steel shouldn’t be used for conveying liquid or in applications that produce a lot of condensation. If you plan to use carbon steel bends outside or in a location where rust is a concern, they must first be painted.
  • Can cause food contamination: Carbon steel reacts with highly acidic foods, such as those that contain citrus, tomato, vinegar, or wine. This can alter the taste and appearance of these foods, making them unfit for your customers’ needs, and damage your components. If you process foods or beverages in your facility, be sure to construct your system using a non-reactive, food-safe material like stainless steel.

Should I use carbon steel bends in my pneumatic conveying system?

Carbon steel bends are extremely durable and abrasion resistant, and don’t warp under heat or weight. This makes them a versatile choice in pneumatic conveying, able to transport almost any dry bulk material from coal and mining ore to powders and plastics. And since they’re both cost-effective and widely available, you can easily purchase carbon steel bends without exceeding your maintenance budget.

However, their tendency to rust makes carbon steel bends a poor choice for conveying liquids, wet solids, or materials that create condensation. Similarly, they can be corroded by acidic substances. In these applications, rustproof aluminum bends or corrosion-resistant stainless steel bends tend to be more suitable.

Order industry-leading custom carbon steel bends online in minutes

As the industry’s first online pneumatic conveying retailer, PneuComponents supplies manufacturers worldwide with high-performing carbon steel bends – no long sales calls or wait times required!

Before adding to cart, you can even customize the dimensions and degrees of each component to ensure it’s the perfect match for your pneumatic conveying system. And if we don’t carry the sizes you want, we’re happy to manufacture custom components that meet your specifications.

Visit our online store now to order industry-leading carbon steel bends that boost your efficiency and productivity while cutting downtime and maintenance costs.

As a part of Progressive Products, Inc, PneuComponents draws on over 40 years of technical expertise and industry innovation to give you the best possible guidance and service. Progressive Products is an industry-leading manufacturer of abrasion-resistant components, and their products are used in pneumatic conveying systems worldwide.