Double Expansion Joints vs. Universal Expansion Joints: The Purpose of Each and the Key Differences Between the Two

An expansion joint provides safe, balanced movements of material and parts that are normally caused by thermal variations, vibrations or other types of relative conditions.  They designed to absorb heat-induced expansions that are located within pipes, while allowing it to absorb all of the heat that has been induced through expansions, as well as through the contraction of various materials in a safe manner. It is also designed to absorb the vibration as it allows for movement that takes place within the pipes to do so in a more balanced manner.    

Expansion joints also referred to as movement joints in some industries, are used in a wide variety of different capacities within different industries. They are used within the railway industry, on bridges in construction and within a wide array of other sectors. 

Professionals within these industries rely heavily on expansion joints to be made with a lot of quality so that they can efficiently perform their jobs.

Expansion Joint Designs

An expansion joint design is made in a variety of different configurations. Each is designed with its own design specification based on the requirement for each of the pipe expansion joint applications. The expansion joint design is very meticulous and detailed.  It requires that the designer first reviews the overall layout of the piping system in its totality before preparing the design.  

Some areas that the designer should be concerned about consist of anything that would affect the performance of the expansion joint. This could include the pressure, the movements, the flowing medium and the overall layout of the expansion joint. Basically, the overall piping system must be thoroughly reviewed to first obtain an understanding its location and the type of pipe expansion joint that is required, which is based on what's most suitable for the application being used.

There are variety of different expansion joints available in the marketplace, each serving their own individual purpose. Some include the double expansion joint and the universal expansion joint. Below is a description of each, each of their primary functions and how they differ.

The Double Expansion Joint

The double expansion joint is comprised of two individual joints that are joined together with the use of what is referred to as the common connector. The common connector is anchored to a certain part of the structure that is typically very rigid with respect to the anchor support base. They are also available with or without the anchor support base, which usually depends on what the customer prefers. In any case you'll find a need to use the double expansion joint whenever the actual movement that needs to be absorbed is too big to be supported by use of the single expansion joint.

The anchor that appears on the center of the nipple, which is referred to as the intermediate anchor, creates a divide to the movement, which causes each of the bellows within the double joint to absorb its proper proportion of the movement.

You'll also find that the double expansion joints are normally located in the middle of the pipe run, whereby each of the ends is exposed to the same level of movement - and each having the same amount of corrugations.

The Universal Expansion Joint

The universal expansion joint, unlike the double expansion joint, is not anchored to any structure. It is comprised of two bellows that are joined together by one connector. This overall structure allows the universal expansion joint to be in a position to absorb any form of movement that may take place. These typically occur in a combination of three different movements: The movements include the lateral, axial, and angular movement. The structure is designed to support these three combinations of movement because they are too large to be supported by a single expansion joint.

Universal expansion joints are typically made with tie rods containing stops that are designed to distribute any movement between each of the bellows, thus stabilizing the common connector between them.

Both types of expansion joints play a very key role when being used in its various capacities. Each can be made to order - designed based on key specifications. Make sure you have the right expansion joint for the job with help from Badger Industries. At Badger, our engineers build quality that lasts, custom designing expansion joints for reliable durability and dependability that lasts for years. Contact Badger today to request a quote, and discover just how our expansion joints provide the utmost reliability.  

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