Steel pipe sizes
Pipe size is quoted as a “Nominal Pipe Size” or NPS. The origin of the NPS numbers for smaller pipes (< NPS 12) is different to the origin for larger diameter pipes. However, all pipes of a specific NPS number have the same external or outer diameter (OD). The internal diameter will vary depending on the wall thickness of the metal. The reason for this is so that the same structural supports can be used for all piping of a specific NPS number regardless of the wall thickness.
Steel pipe schedules are a way to describe the wall thickness of the pipe. This is a critical parameter as it is directly related to the strength of the pipe and the suitability for specific applications. A pipe schedule is a dimensionless number and is calculated based on the design formula for wall thickness, given the design pressure and allowable stress.
Examples of schedule numbers are as follows: 5, 5S, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140, 160, STD, XS, and XXS—with the most common being schedules 40 and 80. As the schedule number increases, the wall thickness of the pipe increases. The schedule number of a pipe therefore defines the internal diameter, as the OD is fixed by the NPS number.