Metallic Expansion Joints — The Expansion Joints Blog


Expansion Joints for Beginners Webinar

November 7th, 2013 Comments off

The live webinar is over, but you can view the recording at:

Metallic BellowsThis webinar was created to explain the basic principles of expansion joints in the simplest way possible. The presentation will introduce you to expansion joints and concentrate on metallic and fabric expansion joints. It will explain the various designs, applications and details of each expansion joint using simple terms and a lot of visual aids. The presentation will conclude with general guidelines of the maintenance and ordering process.

31″ I.D. Custom Turbine Expansion Joint

August 6th, 2012 Comments off

31" I.D. Custom Turbine Expansion Joint

A custom fabricated 31″ I.D. turbine expansion joint was designed and fabricated to be placed in service for a company in Texas. The expansion joint unit was reverse engineered, from the previous unit, with improvements to the current design. It is fabricated from 321 stainless steel with Inconel 625 bellows. The turbine expansion joint is 36″ long and is designed for 70 PSIG at 450 deg. F and axial travel of 4″. The expansion joint was 100% dye-penetrant examined and hydro-tested prior to being shipped to the customer.

Use Our Expansion Joint Catalog Online, Download a PDF Version or Request Your Own Copy

June 4th, 2012 Comments off

Access our full expansion joint catalog online, anytime. You can also download a PDF version from our site to use offline. If you would like your own copy, please fill out the Catalog Request Form. Our expanded catalog includes:

  • Expansion Joint Catalog CoverDetails about our bellows design
  • Bellows material characteristics and details
  • Types of deflection, including diagrams and examples
  • Cyclic deflections and cycle life
  • Types of metallic expansion joints (movements, principal advantages, limitations and uses)
  • Accessories, including liners, covers, purge connectors and limit rods
  • A full installation and maintenance guide, including the “Do’s and Dont’s” from EJMA
  • Inspection criteria and typical causes of expansion joint failure
  • Details on expansion joint design, pipe guide spacing, and flange data
  • Sample applications and examples
  • Glossary of terms
  • Safety recommendations
  • Equivalency charts
  • Terms of sale

Fabric Expansion JointsCheck out our new fabric expansion joint catalog online as well.

View the basics about fabric expansion joints, including how they work and some design integrations. Also learn about the factors that influence their design like: temperature, chemical attack, movements, abrasion, pressure fluctuations and summation. Read about fabric expansion joint applications, frame styles, materials, inspection and installation.

View our past expansion joint and duct work projects in the Featured Product Archives

May 14th, 2012 Comments off

Check out some of our past projects in the Featured Product Archives section of our website.

  • View images of metallic and fabric expansion joints, duct work, and combination assemblies.
  • Also read the details on the project itself, including design specifications and testing requirements.
  • The projects are conveniently grouped by the type of expansion joint and then listed descending by the release date.

Here are a few examples:

36″ Tied Universal Expansion Joint for a Petrochemical Plant in Kuwait
36" Tied Universal Expansion Joint
U.S. Bellows Inc. designed and fabricated a 36″ tied universal expansion joint for a petrochemical plant in Kuwait. The expansion joint measures 36″ in diameter x 318″ from center of elbow to face of flange. It is fabricated from 316H stainless steel with Inconel® 800 bellows. The design pressure of the expansion joint is 65 PSIG, and the design temperature is 1076°F. It is designed for axial compression within the tie rods and lateral movement of 3.02″. Hydro-testing was performed at 98 PSIG to assure the integrity of the tie rods and also to assure quality. The pictures show the expansion joint leaving the shop on its way to the customer. The stainless steel flange faces are protected with 3/4″ plywood during delivery.
44″ Double Gimbal Universal Expansion Joint for an Oil Refinery in Wyoming
44" Double Gimbal Universal Expansion Joint
This gimbal expansion joint is designed for angular rotation in two planes of up to 4° in each plane. It has an overall length of 140″ with a total assembly weight of 11,000 lb. It is fabricated with 316 stainless steel bellows and carbon steel piping. This expansion joint was 100% dye-penetrant examined and hydro-tested prior to shipment. U.S. Bellows, Inc. and Piping Technology & Products, Inc. also furnished the spring supports and pipe attachments for this project.
128″ x 229″ Rectangular Fabric Expansion Joints for an Exhaust Duct
128" x 229" Rectangular Fabric Expansion Joints
The fabric expansion joints shown above are fabricated with a three layer fabric belt. The three layers consist of an inner layer of silica cloth, a middle layer of mineral wool and an outer layer of PTFE/coated fiber glass. The frame includes an insulation blanket of mineral wool and stainless steel wire mesh. The frame and liner are fabricated from 3/8″ thick 304 stainless steel and each expansion joint’s frame and liner welds were dye-penetrant tested before shipping. 

- Pressure: 1 PSIG
- Temperature: 1010°F

Design Movements:
- 2″ Axial Displacement
- 3/4″ Lateral Displacement

New 2011 Expansion Joint Catalog

September 26th, 2011 Comments off

New 2011 Expansion Joint Catalog
To get your copy, fill out the request form. A number of improvements have been implemented based on valuable feedback from our customers and engineers.

- all new photographs
- a brand new section on past projects
- more expansion joint data tables

You can now download the expansion joint data tables from our online catalog.

Reasons to Choose a Fabric Expansion Joint versus Metal Expansion Joint

September 19th, 2011 Comments off

Reasons to choose a fabric expansion joint

Reasons to choose a fabric expansion joint:

  • Good for high temperature applications
  • High movement capabilities
  • No size restraints
  • Less expensive to design and fabricate
  • See more reasons in our catalog

Reasons to choose a metal expansion joint

Reasons to choose a metal expansion joint

Examples of Common Types of Expansion Joints

January 26th, 2011 Comments off

Single tied expansion joint fabricated entirely of stainless steel for a pipeline in Alaska.Single Tied Expansion Joints for a Pipeline in Alaska

The expansion joint assemblies are fabricated entirely from stainless steel with a design pressure of 50 PSIG. They are designed with tie rods that do not permit axial movement, but allow for lateral movement up to 1/2″. The expansion joints will be used on a process line that contains exhaust gas and hydrocarbon vapor at a low concentration. It will connect an oil tank with a vapor control system.

View Information on Single Expansion Joints



Universal metallic expansion joint with 300 lb. raised face stainless steel flanges.Universal Metallic Expansion Joints with 300 lb. Raised Face Stainless Steel Flanges

The expansion joint assemblies are fabricated for a 12″ pipe and are designed for 2-1/2″ lateral movement. The design pressure is 276 PSIG with a design temperature of 626°F. 316L stainless steel was used for the bellows and tie rods. The expansion joints include 300 lb. raised face stainless steel flanges to accommodate low spring rate requirements.

View Information on Universal Expansion Joints


Hinged expansion joints with refractory lining.Hinged Expansion Joints with Refractory Lining

Hinges cause the unit to bend in a single plane. The hinge mechanism is designed to accept the full pressure thrust.

  • Design Pressure: 75.4 PSIG
  • Design Temperature: 1400°F
  • 100% X-ray Tested
  • Pneumatically Tested weld seams to 83 PSIG

View Information on Hinged Expansion Joints

View Information on Refractory-lined Expansion Joints




Elbow pressure balanced expansion joints fabricated for a 36" pipe.Elbow Pressure Balanced Expansion Joints

The expansion joints are fabricated for a 36″ pipe and are designed with Inconel® 625 grade LCF bellows. They include a liner provided with drain holes to prevent accumulation of corrosive condensation.

View Information on Pressure Balanced Expansion Joints


Inline pressure balanced expansion joints designed to balance 48,000 lb. of pressure thrust.Inline Pressure Balanced Expansion Joints

- Design: 125 PSIG, Temperature: 244°F

- 304 SS Bellows, Flanges & Liners

- Designed to Balance 48,000 lb. of Pressure Thrust

View Information on Inline Pressure Balanced Joints


Externally Pressurized Expansion JointsExternally Pressurized Expansion Joints

These expansion joints are fabricated for a piping system in a steam plant. They include 304 SS bellows and carbon steel shell and flanges, and are designed for 150 PSIG and 350°F.

View Information on Externally Pressurized Joints


Gimbal expansion joint with floating rings designed for a 55" diameter overhead vapor line at a refinery.

Gimbal Expansion Joint with Floating Rings

These expansion joints are designed for a 55″ diameter overhead vapor line at a refinery. The overall length is 310″ and the bellows are fabricated from 625 LCF. The expansion joint is designed for 50 PSIG and 1075°F.

View Information on Gimbal Expansion Joints

Rectangular Metallic Expansion Joints

January 5th, 2011 Comments off

Rectangular metal expansion joints have a variety of applications in the power, petrochemical, refining, chemical, and steel industries. Since there are no standard duct sizes, and due to the wide range of pressure and temperature combinations, each rectangular metal expansion joint is custom-engineered to provide the most economical design that will absorb the thermal movements of the system in which it is installed.

General arrangement of rectangular expansion joints with supported sides

General arrangement of rectangular expansion joints with supported sides


- Absorbs axial and lateral movements

- Variety of bellows geometry (for long straight sides)

- Normal guiding is required

- Manufactured for a wide variety of materials


Like circular expansion joints, rectangular expansion joints absorb three types of movement: axial, lateral and angular. For the purpose of designing rectangular bellows, it is critical to know in which direction the lateral and angular movements will occur, i.e. parallel to the long and/or short side of the bellows.

55' Long by 14'-6" Wide Rectangular Metallic Expansion Joint

Unlike circular bellows where the pressure stress is a circumferential membrane (hoop) stress, the rectangular bellows must be designed for longitudinal (beam) bending stresses. Long unsupported lengths must frequently be supported to prevent excessive deflection and stresses of the bellows element. In certain applications, covers and liners can perform the function of pressure supports.

View more information of Rectangular Metallic Expansion Joints

Stock Metallic Bellows

December 20th, 2010 Comments off

U.S. Bellows has an inventory of over 1500 stock bellows for your quick-turn/emergency requirements.

Stock Metallic Bellows

Using our inventory, we can quickly assemble and ship a variety of expansion joints including single, single tied, universal, elbow pressure balanced and in-line pressure balanced expansion joints. Stock bellows are available from 2″ to 24″ diameter and in three pressure values: 85 PSIG, 150 PSIG, 300 PSIG.

Pipe Loop or Expansion Joint?

October 16th, 2010 Comments off

We recently posted a new article on the advantages of using an expansion joint versus a pipe loop:

An expansion joint and a pipe loop are two methods employed to safely absorb thermal expansion or contraction in piping systems due to thermal temperature changes.

Piping System with Expansion Joints

Piping System with Expansion Joints

When design conditions exist, where an expansion joint or a pipe loop can be utilized, the major advantages of using an expansion joint are as follows:

  1. Space is inadequate for a pipe loop with sufficient flexibility.
  2. A minimum pressure drop throughout the pipe line is required and the absence of flow turbulence from the elbows and piping is required by process flow conditions.
  3. The fluid is abrasive and flows at a very high velocity.

Check out the rest of the article  “Advantages of an Expansion Joint” versus a “Pipe Loop” at our site!

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