Pipe & Mechanical Tubing: The Perfect Marriage for American Piping Products

Since 1995, American Piping has become one of the largest steel pipe distributors in the US. Our humble beginning as a pipe broker with a limited inventory of heavy wall seamless carbon pipe led to our diversification into other piping products. Initial additions to our inventory included SA333 low temp pipe, SA335 chrome-moly, and a broader offering of SA106 sizes.

In 2012, thanks to the late Walter Lucas, APP began stocking pipe from approved sources such as Vallourec and Tenaris, added 4130 Chrome pipe to their inventory, and increased their value-added services such as pipe profiling and miter cutting. With the acquisition of Ozark Tubular in 2013, APP expanded into the welded carbon pipe market, adding both ERW and DSAW pipe to our inventory. This expansion into the pipe market continued, with the addition of seamless stainless and domestic carbon seamless pipe after becoming an official US Steel distributor. 

The question became, “What’s next?” Based on a need we saw in the market and an opportunity for growth, we knew mechanical tubing was the answer. So, in 2022, we unveiled our new mechanical tubing division.

Breaking Into the Tubing Market

Mechanical tube and carbon pipe are both commonly used in construction, energy, and manufacturing, with numerous additional applications across different industries. Beyond the similar end markets, there were other motivations when adding mechanical tubing to APP’s breadth of offerings. 

Since 2011, APP has utilized its Chicago yard to service customers throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley region. Although the pipe business remained strong in the area, APP saw an opportunity to utilize saw capabilities in this facility and use the strategic location to support the heavily concentrated mechanical tubing market in the region. Chicago has become our tubing operational base and we continue to build more value-added service capabilities to continue expanding into the mechanical tubing market. 

Additionally, manufacturers of pipe tend to have operations that produce mechanical tubing. This allowed APP to lean on long-standing, valued relationships to begin our expansive inventory build. As a distributor, we recognize that mill partnerships are vital, and if we can provide more value by purchasing and representing more of a mill’s product offering, it is a win for all. Beyond current mill relationships, our new product line also opened up avenues to partner with new vendors with specific expertise in the mechanical tubing industry. This has allowed American Piping Products to become more diversified and grow alongside our established and respected mill partners.

Last but certainly not least, we were motivated by our customers. Because of their many similarities, APP customers have been coming to us for both piping and tubing needs for quite some time. However, with the help of our customers, we discovered a need in the distribution space for a supplier who can provide just-in-time inventory and a high level of customer service. In order to better provide for our customers, it became clear it was time to expand into the world of mechanical tubing.

Pipe… Tube… What’s the difference? 

Not much, to be honest. There are more similarities than differences. Given that hot-finished seamless mechanical tubing is often made to the same material specifications as seamless carbon pipe and from some of the same mills, there is a lot of overlap in mechanical and chemical properties. The OD and Wall thicknesses are the most notable differences between these product lines. Apparently, size does matter. Whereas pipe is manufactured to specific Nominal Pipe Sizes, mechanical tubing can be made to any OD and Wall combination. This allows for mechanical tubing to be used in a more broad range of applications. The utilization of mechanical tubing spans many industries, including automotive, aerospace, industrial machinery, agriculture, and energy. 

If It’s Round With Holes in Both Ends, Think of American Piping!

Mechanical tube and steel pipe are both crucial components in many different industries and when choosing between the two products, it’s important to analyze your specific requirements. American Piping Products not only has expertise in both tube and pipe but also has the ability to offer all the value-added services you need to get your crew what they need, when they need it. To find your perfect fit, connect with an APP representative today.