The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) first published the Boiler & Pressure Code (BPVC) in 1915 in response to the need for safety measures in the production and use of boilers and pressure vessels. In the early 1900s, boilers and pressure vessels – closed containers designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially different from the ambient pressure – were new innovations. These innovations promoted and advanced industrial activity in the U.S., specifically for companies that utilized machines for long-range transportation and heavy lifting.
Safety, however, was an issue. Accidents and fatal disasters were caused by cheap production practices in the early 1900s, careless operations, and temperamental machinery. Because of these issues, the ASME’s BPVC was born and it has played a vital role in manufacturing and industry for almost a century.
Today, the BPVC has been adopted in some form by all 50 states in the U.S. and all provinces of Canada. Additionally, translations and copies of the code are used around the world, promoting pressure vessel safety on an international level. An article posted on the ASME website addresses the importance of pressure vessel safety: “Going by its definition, it is actually very important as the vessel, which comes in the shape of a closed container, is designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially different from the ambient pressure. If it doesn’t, the consequences can be fatal.”
Pressure vessels come in all shapes and sizes, each of which can affect the strength and function of the vessel. Common pressure vessel shapes include sections of spheres, cylinders, and cones, with the most common design being a cylinder with end caps called “heads.” The heads of most pressure vessels are often shaped liked dishes, a round/circular design. According to the previously cited ASME article, “More complicated shapes have been more difficult to analyze for safe operation and are usually far more difficult to construct.” Shape can also affect the strength of a pressure vessel, with spherical pressure vessels having twice the strength of cylindrical pressure vessels.
While the shape of a pressure vessel may present production and safety challenges for some manufacturers, that’s not the case for Helander Company. Helander manufactures pressure vessels of varying shapes and sizes, fabricating seamless custom pressure vessel shells through a special hot spinning process that creates vessels made from stainless steel, mild steel, or aluminum. The pressure vessels can be manufactured with or without bottlenecks depending on a customer’s specifications, and all pressure vessels manufactured by Helander meet ASME safety standards. For more information about custom pressure vessels, specifications, and manufacturing capabilities, visit Helander’s website.