Ways Industrial Valves have Changed over Time and a Look to the Future

The first patent for valves, as we know them, dates back over 2,000 years! We’ve been using them since the Roman Empire.

But just as all things evolve with time, so have valves. They had to survive eras of technological advancement. 

Keep reading as we dive into the history of industrial valves, and the improvements that brought them into technology-intensive industries.

A History of Industrial Valves

Leonardo DaVinci brought forth impressive valve engineering and design as a famous artist and inventor. However, the changes that occurred to produce the valve we know and use today happened in the past 150 years. 

What are Valves?

Valves are mechanisms used in pipeline systems to control the rate, speed of flow, and pressure of liquid contents, such as oil and gas.

When it comes to safety and smooth operation of a pipeline, you can’t discount industrial valves. 

The First Valve Designs

The first valves and fittings as we know them were conceived between the 19th and early 20th centuries.

James Robertson was the first to file a patent for a valve in the U.S. in 1840. At the time, he called this gate valve a “stop clock.”

Steam propelled valve designs came about at the same time as the steam-powered industrial revolution. 

Valve Standardization in the 1900s

The first part of the 20th century was a period of significant industrial growth. Valve manufacturers adopted Henry Ford’s assembly line techniques. 

Valves were mass-produced, but there was no interchangeability between manufacturers’ products.

Along came the Committee of Manufacturers on Standardization of Pipe Fittings and Valves (now the Manufacturers Standardization Society) to address this issue.

World War II

Chemical and petrochemical advancements and well-built valves produced top-notch warships and machinery. 

By the end of World War II, however, supply outgrew demand, and there was a scarcity of raw materials. 

New Processes in the Chemical Industry

Because the existing stainless steels were susceptible to corrosion, engineers focused on the development of higher-grade stainless steel. 

Between 1950 to 1960, manufacturers and professional societies struggled with issues such as freight rate increases, tariffs, and labor problems. 

New Methods of Rating Valves

In the 1960s, export opportunities were growing and the interest of the Valve Manufacturers of America (VMA). In this decade, members facilitated the first overseas trade mission. 

Previously, pressure and temperature ratings were based on flange ratings, but this limited the rating method of valves.

So, the SP-66, Pressure Temperature Ratings for Steel Butt-welding End Valves was created in 1964 and is the most widely used testing standard used in America today.

Struggling to Meet Demand

Between 1960 and 1980, valve standards were broad, including types such as check, butterfly, ball, and more.

In 1982, the VMA headquarters moved to D.C. to be closer to federal agencies and congress.

Industrial Valves Today and in the Future

Today’s valves are made with the same popular metals of the past 150 years, but the history is still underway.

New materials are under development, such as the new “super 9 chrome.” This alloy steel allows for valve working temperatures of 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the future, you can expect advancements in smart valve technology, including wireless actuators. Most market developments will center around construction and design. Areas such as China, India, and Southeast Asia will introduce even more durable, long-lasting valves that are easier to operate and manufacture.

A History of Quality

For over 100 years, we have manufactured high-quality industrial valves and fittings for a variety of industries, such as the petrochemical, shipbuilding, and industrial gas industries.

Do you have questions about manufacturing applications and best practices? Contact us and speak with one of our experts!