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History of the Bourdon Tube and Pressure Gauges

At ITI UK, the use of the bourdon tube is still used throughout many industries; here’s what we know about the invention and the history surrounding our most vital component. 

A brief history

In 1849, French engineer Eugène Bourdon patented the pressure-measuring device, which we now call the Bourdon tube. The construction of a steam engine made him notice the use of the helically wound coil of the tube to condense the steam that became flattened during fabrication. Correcting this, the tube was then plugged at one end and pressurised at the other. The result meant that the coil began to unwind as the tube regained its circular cross-section. Bourdon was intrigued and conducted experiments to ultimately invent a pressure gauge that was based on the tip deflection of the curved tube with an elliptical cross-section.

Bourdon tubes are now the most used component in mechanical pressure gauges today. They remain popular due to their great simplicity; the simplicity of Bourdon gauges makes them easy to operate and maintain in proper working conditions. They also don’t require an external power source meaning they are not susceptible to voltage fluctuation and power outages.

Looking at the pace of technological development in today’s world, some may say that an invention from 1849 may be obsolete by now. Still, it remains as popular as ever thanks to its many advantages. 

Bourdon Tubes and Their Usage

Bourdon tube pressure gauges are the most widely used instruments for measuring the pressure of liquids and gases, including steam, water, and air pressures. The range of measurement is from 0.6 bar to 6,000 bar. The instrument function across a broad pressure range, offering a high degree of accuracy, up to 0.1% full-scale deflection. 

The bourdon tube pressure gauge displays high sensitivity to pressure changes, ensuring higher accuracy and precision. 

Applications of the Bourdon Tube

The bourdon tube pressure gauge is the most common pressure gauge used in many applications for medium to high-pressure measurement. The most common industries that take advantage of the usage of the bourdon tube pressure gauge are:

  • Chemical processing plant
  • Agricultural sprayers
  • Food production
  • Petrochemical 
  • Oil & Gas
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Automotive
  • Marine
  • Water supply
  • HVAC
  • Aerospace

Benefits of the Bourdon Tube

The Bourdon Tube offers a lot of benefits, which are just as relevant today as they were in 1849. For example, the construction cost of the tube can be kept to a minimum, meaning savings are passed on to customers by an accessible price point. 

The Bourdon tube can also be used to measure vacuum pressure and has been recognised for its superb sensitivity, high accuracy, and availability in numerous ranges.

Bourdon tube gauges are bound to continue to dominate the pressure measurement industry, especially while they are still economically viable and can be used for a wide range of applications. 

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