Metal Expansion Joints vs Fabric Expansion Joints


For many years, fabric expansion joints have been the preferred type of joints in the power industry and pipeline fields due to their excellent high temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, sealing, insulation, noise reduction and shock absorption, and easy installation. Compared with metal expansion joints, fabric expansion joints are more cost-effective and have greater advantages in terms of price cost, service life, displacement performance, load transmission, maintenance cost, and replacement cost.


Price Cost

Metal expansion joints use expensive alloy materials and corresponding manufacturing processes, and the price is high. Fabric expansion joints use economical fabrics as the main material, which not only has complete functions, but also costs only one-third of metal expansion joints.


Service Life

A properly designed fabric expansion joint will not require any maintenance for at least 15 years. Metal expansion joints are prone to fatigue crack failure due to the way they are constructed. Fabric expansion joints have excellent flexibility and fatigue resistance due to the use of fabric as the main material, such as PTFE composite material, and also have a longer service life.


Displacement Performance

Due to its structure, metal expansion joints do not have a wide range of displacement performance, and a wide range of motion can easily cause equipment such as pipelines to fail.  The flexible fabric expansion joint has the characteristics of excellent universal compensation, large displacement absorption, inelastic reaction force, etc., which can avoid the occurrence of such damage, and its flexibility enables to have more space to adapt to various a displacement situation.


Load Transfer

Due to the way of construction, metal expansion joints will generate a certain load, so more supports need to be added to strengthen the connection between the pipeline and the flange or other connection points, which also increases the manufacturing cost to a certain extent. Fabric expansion joints don’t transmit any load, which is one of the reasons for its low price.


Maintenance Costs

When a metal expansion joint is cracked or dented, or damaged during installation, the repair procedure is complicated, requiring the joint to be sent back to the manufacturer for repair, or a technician on-site repair, both of which can result in big maintenance coast and will not be restored to like-new condition. When there is a problem with the fabric expansion joint, such as when the fabric joint is punctured or torn, it only needs to be replaced with a new fabric splicing. The procedure is simple, so the cost is cheap, and the repaired part can be restored to the new state without affecting any usage performance.


Replacement Cost

When the metal expansion joint needs to be replaced, the joint needs to be replaced as a whole, and a welder is required to repair it, so the replacement cost is high. When the fabric expansion joint needs to be replaced, it is usually only necessary to replace the fabric part of the joint or some elastic elements. The operation is simple and cost is low, besides the replaced joint is as new.


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