A U-bolt is a curved u-shaped bolt with threads on both ends that is used in the pipelines and piping system as support. They mostly perform as Rest+Guide+Hold down supports, but with a minor installation modification, they may also function as line stops. The curved design of U-bolts fits neatly around the pipes, which are subsequently fastened with a secondary part using nuts. They are widely available in a range of sizes and thicknesses.
What are the functions of U-bolts?
U-bolts have a wide range of uses. They’re generally utilized as pipe support solutions. For the reasons listed below, U-bolts are often used in pipe systems:
- Using U-bolts as pipe supports: U-bolts are used to give lateral support to pipes. They are the most fundamental and often utilized type of pipe support in small bolt pipe networks. U-bolts are widely utilized in any operation to hold bare pipes smaller than 8 inches in diameter. As earlier mentioned, they serve as a rest+guide+hold down. U-bolts can reduce line vibrations by adding strength to the system. For supporting vertical raised runs of pipe, U-bolts are an excellent choice.
- Using U-bolts for pipe shipping: U-bolts are used to prevent pipe movement and breakage in the pipe and pipeline shipping industry. U-bolts reduce excessive pipe movement caused by transit loads.
Materials of U-bolts
Although U-bolts can be made from any sort of strong and durable material, stainless steel and carbon steel are often utilized in the piping sector. To avoid corrosion, protective coatings are sometimes applied. Some of the most common U-bolt coatings are:
- Thermoplastic coating
- Zinc Plating
- Fluoropolymer coating
- Hot-Dip Galvanization
Forms of U-bolts
U-bolts are commonly utilized as a guide+hold down. They may, however, be utilized as anchors as well. These U-bolt functions are divided into two types: gripped U-bolts and non-gripped U-bolts.
- U-bolt as Anchor (Gripped U-bolt):
The U-bolt acts as an anchor and stops pipe displacement at the support location in a gripped U-bolt configuration. To use the pipe U-bolt as an anchor, the U-bolt must be positioned with no gap between the pipe and the U-bolt. Both bolts are tightened to fit perfectly against the pipe at the bottom of the secondary support structure. The friction force between the clamp and the pipe surfaces prevents pipe movement in the axial direction, allowing the clamp to function as a directional anchor. However, when the line stops axial forces increase, and the frictional force may be unable to withstand the axial force and slip. As a result, the use of U-bolts as anchors is confined to smaller pipes, typically up to 6-inches in diameter.
- U-bolt as Guide (Non-gripped U-bolt):
The non-gripped U-bolt is the most common and easy to install and can be used as a pipe guide. It does not limit axial rotation. In the installation of non-gripped pipe U-bolts, one nut is positioned on top of the support beam and the other on the bottom. Both nuts are fastened, leaving a space between the pipe and the U-bolt surface.
Installation of U-bolts
It is considerably simpler to install a pipe U-bolt. The diameter of the pipe determines the size of the U-bolts. Threads and nuts are included with all appropriately sized U-bolts. The only thing you have to do is drill a hole in the support beam, precisely position the bolt through those holes, and tighten the nuts depending on the type of support (anchor type or guide type).
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