Axial Expansion Joints

Axial Expansion Joints are the simplest type of expansion joints using single bellow unit.Stainless steel expansion joints are compact requiring virtually no additional space beyond the length of bellows and weld ends or flanges for installation. Axial Expansion Joints have further advantage of not imposing a change in the direction of flow. Where small thermal movements are involved and where proper anchoring and guiding is possible, single axial bellows provide the most economical solution.

Axial Expansion Joints
Anchor & Guide spacing arrangements for axial bellows
Axial Expansion Joints
Intermediate anchor arrangement for opposite movement

The most common application of an axial expansion joints is to absorb axial movements of a straight pipe between main anchors. This single expansion joints should be placed near one anchor and guides should be utilized to ensure proper alignment and movement control as shown in adjacent figure.

Various Types of Axial Expansion Joints / Single Expansion Joints

Fixed Flanges Compact (Type1102)

Fixed Flanges ( Type 1101)

Rotary(Swivel) Flanges(Type 1103)

Weld Ends (Type 1104)

Reaction Force

Stainless steel bellows are designed to compensate for axial displacements. Slight lateral movements of bellows are acceptable , but reduce the cyclic life expectancy if  the allowable axial movement is used at the same time. The lateral movement on this type of expansion joint produces the highest forces and the most detrimental movement for this type of expansion joint. For this reason axial expansion joints should be installed co-axially with the piping. The Stainless steel bellows should be made to avoid lateral movements by providing directional main anchors  at ends  (two-direction supports acting at right angles to the axis of the pipe) to direct the piping growth in to this joint only in axial direction.

Axial Expansion Joints
Anchor & guide arrangement for T junction
Axial Expansion Joints
Tied single expansion joint for small lateral movements

Under pressure, this joint exerts a reaction force on the adjoining pipe.This reaction force should be absorbed by anchors at both ends of the pipe section in which axial expansion joint is installed. In a piping system with several expansion joints the system should be broken up by intermediate anchors in to sections with one such joint in each section. The anchors at the end of the piping system are designed to absorb the full reaction force (pressure thrust force) of the expansion joints. Intermediate anchors are designed to resist forces due to friction, uneven cooling etc.

This reaction force = (Mean Effective Area) x (Line pressure)

When the axial movements of the piping run exceeds the capacity of a single bellows axial expansion joint a double bellows joint with support foot ( intermediate anchor) welded to a center spool can be used.This type of double bellows axial expansion joint is located in the center of the piping run and each single joint on either side absorbs the axial movement of that section of the piping within which it is located.

Axial Expansion Joints
Anchor and guide arrangements for change in flow direction

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 Axial Expansion Joints  Axial Expansion Joints  Axial Expansion Joints
 Axial Expansion Joints  Axial Expansion Joints  Axial Expansion Joints


  • Simple and most economical type of Expansion Joint with single bellows unit
  • No change in for direction required.
  • Compact requiring minimum space for Installation.
  • Available in a single bellows or Universal Design.
  • Economical Construction.
  • Will not absorb pressure thrust unless tie rods are used.


  • Strong anchors required.
  • Pipe guides essential to direct the movement.
  • Several Axial/Single Expansion Joints are required for large movements.
  • Several anchors and guides required for long run pipe sections.