What are Metal Bellows, and How are They Made?

Written by Small Business Magazine on February 23, 2018. Posted in Bellows band, How metal bellows are made, Standard bellows

Bellow forming machine

One essential part of modern manufacturing is the metal bellows, usually equipped with single expansion joints or a high pressure expansion joint.

What are Metal Bellows?

These custom bellows are made from heavy metals like nickel alloys, titanium, or sometimes stainless steel. Their purpose is to compress under extreme pressure, bend as needed, and return to their original shape when the pressure is released.

What are Bellows Used For?

Metal bellows with metal can be used making load cells, vacuum interrupters, seals, sensors, pressure gauges, altitude sensors, and in the exhaust systems of engines. In most applications, they are designed to absorb movement They are also used in piping expansion, where the bellows absorb

What are the Steps for Metal Bellows Manufacturing?

It depends upon the type of bellows being made. Welded bellows are made under laboratory conditions using a microscopic process. Other bellows are electroformed, and metal is plated onto a mold, which is then removed physically or by chemicals. Hydroformed bellows are made by using water pressure to force a metal tube to expand within a particular mold. The expanded bellows then take the shape of that mold.

What is a High Pressure Expansion Joint?

A high pressure expansion joint is made up of one or more metal bellows and allows for heat expansion and movement within things like pipelines and containers. The high pressure expansion joint will allow for movement in three different ways: axial, angular, and lateral. Multi-ply bellows are usually made up of two or three tubes but can have as many as five.

What Considerations Go Into Making Bellows or a High Pressure Expansion Joint?

bellows design must take into consideration 12 important things: exposure, the method of assembly, geometric constraints, stress modes, how it will flex, what pressures it will be under, rigid stops, the spring rate, temperature extremes, the end configuration design, and life cycles, and vibration.

What Materials Can Be Used in Making Bellows?

Because a high pressure expansion joint must be used under extreme conditions, the materials used have to be resistant to corrosion and able to withstand intense heat. This makes things like forged steel, Hastelloy X, molybdenum, titanium, and hafnium very useful in these applications.

Metal bellows are essential to numerous industries, including the medical, aerospace, and even space industries. The right kind of bellows provides flexibility and tightness, while resisting corrosion, the elements, and heat. The key is finding the right bellows manufacturer who can provide custom-made metal bellows perfectly adapted to any particular need.

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