The Purpose of Tangent Reducers in Sanitary Applications 

In sanitary applications, a tangent reducer serves the purpose of connecting two pipes or tubing of different sizes while maintaining a smooth and hygienic flow path. The reducer allows for a gradual transition between the two pipe sizes, minimizing turbulence and avoiding areas where contaminants can accumulate.

Common materials used in tangent reducers for sanitary applications include stainless steel (such as 304, 316L, or 317L), which is widely used due to its corrosion resistance and suitability for hygienic environments.

Tangent reducers can come with various end types to facilitate proper connections.

Some common end types include:

  1. Butt Weld: These reducers have plain ends that are designed to be welded directly to the pipes or tubing using a butt welding process. Butt weld connections provide a smooth and continuous inner surface, minimizing areas for bacteria buildup. These are frequently used in orbital welding environments.
  2. Beveled: Tangent reducers with beveled ends have an angled surface at the end, typically at a 37° or 45° angle. These reducers are intended for welding applications where the pipes or tubing have beveled ends that require multi-pass welding. Beveled ends allow for a smooth transition and better penetration during the welding operation.
  3. Grooved: Tangent reducers with grooved ends feature a groove or indentation around the circumference near the end(s). This type of end allows for a secure and reliable connection using grooved couplings. Grooved connections are commonly used in industrial and commercial applications where quick installation and disassembly are required.
  4. Clamp (Tri-Clamp): These reducers feature ends with a grooved profile that allows them to be secured using sanitary clamps. Clamp connections are widely used in sanitary applications due to their ease of assembly and disassembly for cleaning and maintenance.
  5. Threaded: Tangent reducers with threaded ends have male or female threads that enable them to be screwed onto corresponding threaded pipes or fittings. However, threaded connections are not hygienic due to the potential for thread crevices.
  6. Flanged: Some tangent reducers may have flanged ends, which are flat and have bolt holes for attaching the reducer to flanged pipes, fittings, valves, or equipment. Flanged connections are commonly used in large-diameter pipes or in applications where disassembly is less frequent.
  7. Van Stone (Loose Flange): Van Stone tangent reducers have a unique end design that incorporates a loose or free-spinning flange. The flange is not directly welded or connected to the reducer but is instead loosely positioned against it. This allows for easy alignment and infinite adjustment during installation. Van Stone ends are often used in applications where frequent disassembly and reassembly are necessary, such as in process piping systems.

The selection of materials and end types for tangent reducers depends on factors such as the specific application requirements, the nature of the fluid being transported, and the prevailing sanitary standards. When selecting tangent reducers, it’s essential to consider compatibility with the existing piping system, installation requirements, and adherence to applicable sanitary regulations.

Appleton Stainless can help you determine the best material and end type for your tangent reducer.  Contact Us today for more information.

Short & Long Elbows

Nomenclature of Elbows


A short radius elbow has a CenterLine Radius (CLR) of 1x the nominal diameter. 

     A four inch elbow (IPS or OD) has a 4” CLR.

A long radius elbow has a CenterLine Radius (CLR) of 1-1/2x the nominal diameter. 

     A four inch elbow (IPS or OD) has a 6” CLR.

A sweep elbow would be defined as any elbow outside of those parameters, typically having a CLR broader (larger) than 1-1/2 times the nominal diameter.


One of the most common errors one runs into is when a customer from one industry hops into a conversation with someone from another industry.  For instance, when a customer from the sanitary, food & dairy, biopharm community calls for a “short 90”, they are referring to a short pattern (no tangents) elbow.  But the person hearing is in the industrial market and interprets this to be a short radius 90.

“My customer is asking for a “short 90”;  what does that mean?”

When industrial customers from paper, wastewater, vacuum, chemical, etc request a “short 90” they are almost undoubtedly speaking of a short radius elbow.

When your customer in food, dairy, or biopharm phones you, the call out of “short 90” means the customer doesn’t want a tangent on their elbow.  Essentially, it is a long radius 90º elbow (CLR = 1.50x nominal diameter) with no tangents. Most often, the fitting is requested in Tube-OD.  Some customers in the sanitary field aren’t even aware that there is such a fitting as a short radius 90, despite the fact that they are made (primarily for the industrial market).

This is a classic case where not asking the right question(s) will come back to bite you a couple days after you ship out what you were certain was the correct fitting.  Take a moment to check out our webpage on Elbows (Smoothflow).  Bring your customer to the page and ask them to “point.”  It’s the ounce of prevention to avoid that pound of cure.

Is it a Wye? …or is it a Lateral?

Someone from the plumbing trades comes in and asks for a “wye”.  Someone from a steamfitter background calls looking for a “45-degree lateral”.  Which fitting weighs more?  Trick question!  They are the same fitting.

Decades ago, our company started restricting the conversation to two terms to cull the confusion.  A straight run with a branch to one side is a LATERAL.  A fitting with a trunk coming up that splits to a 45º branch left and right is called a TRUE WYE, because it resembles a “capital letter Y” as we learned to draw it in grade school.


Plumbers work extensively with PVC and ABS.  If you look in the catalogs from Charlotte®, Genova®, or various other manufacturers in the plastics industry, what a steamfitter will refer to as a lateral, is referred to in those catalogs as a wye.

Not confused enough?  The plumbing trade calls a 45-degree elbow a “1/8th bend”;  because it turns 1/8th of a 360-degree circle.  So when a customer calls for a “combination wye & 1/8th bend” (a.k.a. “combo”) They are referring to what we call a lateral-tee.  A lateral-tee is simply a lateral with a 45-deg elbow welded to the branch directed perpendicular to the run.