Metal tube manufacturing is booming in Ireland with a new wave of companies making the iconic metal tubes used in the world’s biggest film productions.
Here’s how to get started.
1/7 Metal Tube Industry: The Basics The most common type of metal tube is the 1:1 aluminium tube.
It’s made of 1/2 inch copper alloy and weighs less than 1kg.
2/7 The 1:2 Tube A 3:1 tube is a much cheaper alternative.
It can be found for sale for under £30, although you might be better off with a 2:1 or 1:4 tube.
3/7 Aluminum tube production in Ireland In 2017, more than 200,000 1:7 tubes were produced, but in 2018 that number dropped to around 160,000.
There are more than 600 metal tube factories in Ireland, making around 2.2 million 1:6 and 1:5 tubes each year.
4/7 Production and supply chain for the metal tube Industry statistics show that in 2017, about 60 per cent of all metal tube output in Ireland came from three manufacturers: Alcoa, Battersea Power and Tannyshell.
Alcoas production has been booming over the past few years, with the number of 1:8 and 1/4 tubes on the market rising from just over 200 in 2018 to over 1.3 million in 2019.
5/7 What’s the most common metal tube type?
Most metal tube production uses the same material and uses the standard type of aluminium alloy used in many of the worlds most popular films.
The metal tube used in films such as Transformers and The Avengers is made from aluminium oxide, which is the same as stainless steel.
6/7 Different types of metal tubes The most commonly used metal tubes are the 1/8, 1/6 and 5/8.
All three are similar to each other, but the 1 and 6 are slightly larger.
1:3 and 1-1/8 are slightly thicker and have less weld lines, while 1:9 and 1 1/16 are slightly thinner.
Metal tube manufacturers are now also using titanium, which makes the 1-3/8 tube slightly stronger than stainless steel, and is used in aluminium and titanium tube production.
3:2, 1:14 and 1 3/4 have the same alloy and weld lines as stainless.
1-5/8 tubes are similar in strength to stainless steel but with a slightly thinner weld line.
5-7/8 metal tubes weigh less than 5kg.
The 5-5 tube is made of copper alloy.
6-7 are made of nickel and tin, with an alloy of nickel, tantalum and nickel alloys.
7-10/8 and 9-1 are made out of zinc alloy.
1 1:18 and 1 6/8 can be cut to produce the 3:4 or 3:6 tube.
Metal Tube industry in Ireland has doubled since 2014 to more than 100 companies employing more than 8,000 people.
The most recent figures from 2017 show the number is over 5,000, with more than 800 people employed full time.
3.4 billion aluminium tubes have been made in the UK since 2012, and about 7.5 billion aluminium tube are produced worldwide.
Source: Aluminium Tube Industry Association, Business Irish, Aluminium Tubing Association