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Mechanical Tubing vs. Structural Tubing

on August 31, 2015

In the world of tubing, things can get a bit confusing. With many different types of tubing for different applications, terms and meanings can be a bit ambiguous. With this in mind, we’ve set out to explain the difference between structural tubing and mechanical tubing.

Let’s get started.

Mechanical Tubing vs. Structural Tubing


Mechanical Tubing: tubing used for mechanical and light gauge structural applications. Mechanical tube is produced to meet specific end use requirements, specifications, tolerances and chemistries. This allows for more specific property uniformity throughout the tube compared to standard pipe. While Mechanical tube can be produced to standard specifications when requested, it is often produced to “typical” properties that focus mainly on the yield strength for a particular size and wall thickness. In some applications with severe forming, yield strength may not even be specified and the Mechanical tube is produced to be “fit for use”. Mechanical tubing encompasses a wide range of both structural and non-structural applications.

Structural Tubing: tubing used for structural applications. Standard strength requirements of the tube help dictate applications for which certain tubing is most appropriate. Structural tube is often referred to as hollow structural sections or HSS.

Available Shapes

Mechanical Tube

  • Square
  • Rectangle
  • Round
  • Custom Shapes

Structural Tube

  • Square
  • Rectangle
  • Round


Mechanical Tube

  • Solar Racking
  • Agricultural and dairy products
  • Greenhouse structures and equipment
  • Playground and recreational equipment
  • Conveyor rollers
  • Carports and metal buildings
  • Trailers
  • Appliances
  • Canopies and Shade Structures
  • Satellite dish supports
  • Vinyl stiffening tubes
  • Miscellaneous product applications

Structural Tube

  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Towers
  • Cranes
  • Sign supports and poles
  • Off-shore production and drilling platforms
  • Roll-over protective structures (ROPS)


Mechanical Tube

At Wheatland Tube, our mechanical tubing is manufactured to typical Mechanical tube properties or in accordance with ASTM A500 and A513 Types 1 and 2 specifications. Our Mechanical tubing is not limited to these specifications and can be produced to specific customer requirements when appropriate. Additionally, our in-line galvanized products comply with A1057 and A787 coating specifications and provide a synergistic triple-coat process for enhanced product life.

Structural Tube

While specifications will vary based on design (and from manufacturer to manufacturer), some common specifications of structural tubing include ASTM A500 Grade B and C, A847, A1065, and the recently approved ASTM A1085.

In both cases of “Structural” or “Mechanical” tubing, these products are ordered to a specific outside dimension (OD) and “gauge” or wall thickness. This varies from “pipe” products which are ordered based on inside dimensions (ID) and often pipe “schedules” that determine the wall thickness. Pipe and conduit products should not be used in structural applications as their strength properties may not be produced to standard structural specifications or meet specified engineering requirements. 

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