How Do Tri-Clamp Fittings Work?

  • jzabkowicz
  • April 30, 2018

Contents of this article:

What Are Tri-Clamp Fittings?

Tri-Clamp fittings are a subset of sanitary fittings used in the manufacturing of a wide range of products within the food, beverage and biopharmaceutical industries. Sanitary fittings are polished, stainless steel components that, along with sanitary tubing and valves, are used to transport product during the manufacturing process.

At a microscopic level, stainless steel contains pockets, nicks, and scratches that can potentially harbor impurities that can impact the quality of products produced. For this reason, sanitary fittings are polished to a near flawless finish to reduce the chance of product contamination dramatically.

Examples of Tri-Clamp Fittings

Examples of Tri-Clamp Fittings

How Do Tri-Clamp Fittings Work?

Tri-Clamp fittings, at a basic level, consist of two flanged ends brought togther with both a gasket and clamp to complete the connection. The gaskets offers a leak-proof connection via a variety of materials including:

  • Buna
  • EPDM
  • Teflon
  • Viton

With a secure connection in place, tri-clamp fittings can provide a union between a variety of different end-points with different style adapters. These include Male/Female NPT (National Pipe Thread), Butt Weld, End Caps and several others.

Watch this quick video to see how to tri-clamp fittings go together:

Benefits of Tri-Clamp Fittings

There are two main benefits to using tri-clamp fittings: ease of installation and ability to maintain. Tri-Clamp fittings are very much like legos in that they assemble together in a variety of configurations with ease. All that’s required for a tri-clamp connection is two flanged ends, a gasket, and a clamp to secure the connection.

In terms of maintenance, tri-clamp fittings disassemble just as easily as they go together. Simply loosen the installed clamp, separate pieces including the gasket and you’re ready to clean and inspect your process lines.

How to Maintain Tri-Clamp Fittings?

How often you need to clean and inspect your tri-clamp fittings depend largely upon what you’re processing. In some cases like beer, wine or water, you may be able to run several production batches before inspecting your tri-clamp fittings. For certain types of foods or pharmaceutical production lines, tri-clamp fittings may need to be taken apart and inspected after every run.

As previously mentioned, tri-clamp fittings can be easily disassembled for clean out of place (COP) practices. When you disassemble your process line it’s important to look for a couple of things. If you’re using a clean in place process (CIP), now is a great time to visually inspect the thoroughness of your cleaning practices.

While your tri-clamp fittings are disassembled, it’s also important to inspect your gaskets used to seal your process lines. All gaskets have a usable life expectancy. Materials such as Buna, while cheaper than other alternatives, can wear down at a faster rate depending upon processing materials and temperatures. Look for tears or cracks on the gaskets along with any stains or debris that is difficult to remove while cleaning. The price of gaskets is nowhere near the price of contaminated process lines. If you’re ever in doubt about the cleanliness and appearance of your tri-clamp gaskets it’s best to replace them sooner rather than later.

How Do I Measure Tri-Clamp Fittings?

This question comes up quite a bit so we decided to create a video explaining how to measure tri-clamp fittings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What type of pressure are tri-clamp fittings rated for?
Answer:  The stainless steel that tri-clamp fittings are manufactured from are able to withstand a large amount of pressure.  However, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  In the case of these fittings, the weakest point is the connection between flanges and their associated clamps.  All of the clamps we offer come with differing pressure ratings that will vary depending upon operating pressure.  In the case of our 2″ Single Pin Heavy Duty Clamp, the pressure rating is 450PSI at 70°F.
Question: Are tri-clamp fittings able to support any kind of weight?
Answer:  No.  These fittings are not rated for weight support.  If you have a setup that requires any amount of weight, your system will need to be supported by either ceiling or wall mounted tube hangers.

Still have more questions?

Give us a call at (800) 270-8926 or email john@sanitaryfittings.us. You can also check out our entire line of Tri-Clamp Fittings here.