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Ball Valve Manufacturing Process: How are Ball Valves Made?

Ball valve manufacturing process

The ball valve manufacturing process is a complex procedure that uses many different steps. In this article, you will learn what happens in each one of these steps. These range range from selecting the right material to assembling the manufactured valve. Let’s dive right in and see how ball valves are made.

What are Ball Valves?

Ball valves mean a type of valve that features a rotating ball which, by rotating around a pivoting point, is able to control the flow of media. The ball valve design makes it suitable for many different applications that include industrial settings as well as use with a broad range of media.

In addition to being available in many designs and sizes, you can make this type of valve using different materials. Common materials that may be used in the manufacture of ball valves are brass, stainless steel, and PVC. Brass valves are among the most popular.

How are Ball Valves Made?

Here’s is what you need to know about ball valve manufacturing: To make these valves, manufacturers can either forge or cast them. Each method has its benefits, and the maker can use one or the other, usually depending on the application type and other requirements.

Forged Ball Valve

A forged ball Valve is made using the forging process. This is where solid metal (in the form of thick rods) is cut to size, heated and then pressed using industrial equipment. Forging ball valves offers several benefits:

  • Minimal material waste
  • Ball valves that are tough and less susceptible to cracking or shrinkage
  • Forged ball valves to not have cavities or porosity issues
  • Strong ball valves that you can use in high-pressure lines
  • Ability to manufacture thin-walled valves

Cast Ball Valves

Ball valves are also made using a manufacturing method called metal casting. In contrast to forging, this works by pouring molten metal into a mold and allowing it to solidifying in the required valve shape and size. Cast ball valves present these advantages.

  • Casting gives ball valve manufacturers more material options
  • Casting is a simpler and less demanding ball valve manufacturing method than forging
  • It costs less to cast ball valves than forge them
  • More complex valves designs are possible with casting than forging
Newly manufactured ball valves
Newly manufactured ball valves
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9GkuuuIddM

Ball Valve Manufacturing Process

The ball valve manufacturing process consists of several different steps or stages. As we have seen, it can also involve forging or casting metal. Each manufacturing process has its benefits and disadvantages, and the manufacturer may use either. Here, we’ll focus on the forging process. This ball valve manufacturing method is the most popular across valve-making companies.

Step 1: Design

The ball valve is first designed on a computer using design software. Based on the required features, the ball valve design engineer will ensure proper dimensions, tolerance levels, shape, and so on.

Ball valve design calculations are done, usually based on the customer requirements and valve usage conditions. In some cases, the design is already available and production can begin.

Step 2: Material

The type of material to use is determined. Options include brass, stainless steel, and PVC. The ball valve material selection process takes into account the unique demands of the intended application. These include if the valve will be used on high pressure or low-pressure lines, the type of media, and so on.

The ball valve material may also be made in-house or sourced from outside. It’s usually in the form of metal rods. These, depending on the required valve size, will be cut into the required lengths before being taken to the next step of the process.

Step 3: Forging

Here, the cut metal rods are heated and then forged in a press. Heating make the metal soft and easy to shape. Forging ball valves provides for higher levels of strength and valves that are not likely to crack or get damaged in other ways.

After forging, the parts are taken to the next stage of the ball valve manufacturing process, which is trimming them. This is where the imperfections of the forging process will be removed.

Step 4: Trimming and Blasting

During the forging process, burrs and other protrusions are created. These must be removed. Trimming involves the use of trimming equipment to remove flashes. On the other hand, shot blasting cleans the ball valve using high-velocity particulate media while inside a centrifugal machine.

Step 5: Machining

The ball valve is machined to the required dimensions or tolerance levels, including that of the thread. This part of the ball valve manufacturing process involves the use of a CNC machine. Computerized equipment reduces errors, ensuring a finished product that will offer a leak- free operation.

Step 6: Heat Treatment and Plating

To achieve the required hardness and other properties such as ability to resist corrosion, the valve is either heat-treated or plated. Heat treatment involves using controlled temperatures to harden the material, while nickel plating is the one of the most preferred coating method. Once treated, the valve is ready for assembly.

Step 7: Assembly

The forged, machined, and heat-treated or plated valve in now assembled. Ball valve assembly involves adding all the required components. These include internal parts such as the rotary ball, valve seals and outer parts like end caps. A typical industrial ball valve is assembled using the following steps:

  • An O-ring is placed on the end cap
  • A seal that will secure the rotating ball is installed
  • The rotary ball is placed on top
  • Seals are inserted on the other end cap as in the first steps
  • Long bolts that will join the end caps are inserted and tightened with nuts
  • The handle is inserted on the valve step located on the valve’s top side and secured with a nut

Step 8: Testing

This is the last stage of the ball valve manufacturing process. Assembled valves are tested for dimensional accuracy. Most importantly, the valves are passed through a leak test to ascertain their quality both in terms of safety and reliability.

During the ball valve testing process, in-house and external quality standards are also adhered to, with the aim of ensuring the finished part is high quality and fit for its application. Inspected ball valves are packaged as required, ready for shipping.

Conclusion

In this article, we have looked at the ball valve manufacturing process step by step. These are the general steps that ball valve manufacturers will used to make forged valves. Note that different materials can be used to make them. Depending on your application, your manufacturer may advice you on the best options for your project.

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