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How To: Tri-Clamp/Clover Connections

HOW TO MAKE A TRI-CLOVER OR TRI-CLAMP CONNECTION

Originally called “Tri-Clover” named after the brand and Trademark of Alfa-Laval Hygienic Fittings, the major producer of these sanitary connections, they are also known as “Tri-Clamp”. Tri Clamp is a term initially used to describe the Tri-Clover 3 part clamps; however it has since become a popular way of referring to these sanitary clamps.

Tri-Clamp Fittings General Applications

These Sanitary Fittings are predominantly used in the food processing industry. This includes dairy farms, wine farms commercial and micro-breweries.

Benefits of a Tri-Clamp Connection

They provide a sanitary connection between pipes and tubing. They are also designed to be CIP (Cleaned in Place) and to be easily taken apart for additional cleaning and replacement.

Sanitary connection

For a fitting to make a sanitary connection it needs to confirm to the U.S. 3A sanitary standard for hygienic valves and fittings.

The two most important features of the 3A sanitary standard are that there can be no exposed threads in the connection; and there can be no sudden change in the internal diameter.

Since no exposed threads are allowed by the 3A sanitary standard the Tri-clamp by NPT threads are not truly sanitary fittings; however they are widely used in home brewery and by Breweries for certain connections that don’t have to be truly sanitary.

Why use Tri-Clamp Fittings for Home Brew?

The reason these fittings are so popular in homebrew is they make a quick sturdy connection and they are easy to clean. They also conveniently come in a variety of options with MNPT, FNPT, hose barbs, 90 degree hose barbs and camlock ends, allowing you to conveniently connect TC fittings with hoses, pipe threads and camlock fittings.

How to make a Tri-Clamp Connection

To make a Tri-Clover/Tri-Clamp connection the following are needed:

1)    One clamp,

2)    Two Fittings (Ferrule ends or TC Flange ends)

3)    And a gasket.

A Clamp holds every connection together.

The two Ferrule ended fittings or flange ended Fittings connect face to face.

Each Connection is sealed with a gasket.

1) Clamps 

The Clamp fits over the two ferrules and as it tightens it compresses the connection to seal on the gasket. The Clamps we offer have a wing nut for easy tightening and loosening without the need for tools.

2) Fittings  

The fittings in a sanitary connection can be any combination of a Tri-Clamp Ferrule, a Tri-Clamp by NPT or Hose barb, a Tri-Clamp valve, TC Extension Tube, TC Elbow or Tee, Sight gauge and so forth...

3) Tri-Clamp Gaskets

Silicone gaskets are the most suitable gasket for food and beverage applications, including for home brew. They are heat resistant and form a great seal due to their elasticity.

We also carry the EPDM and PTFE (Teflon™) gaskets. PTFE has a high heat tolerance and chemically compatible with many acids and alkalis. It is also very firm and requires more pressure to get a seal.

 

HOW TO SIZE A TRI-CLOVER/TRI-CLAMP FITTING

Have you ever wondered how to determin Tri-Clamp size or how to measure a Tri-Clamp fitting? The sizing is based on the outside diameter (OD) of the tube and not on the outside diameter (OD) of the flange end itself. Therefore it is important to note that the OD of the flange end (Or Ferrule Face) does not determine the fitting Size. The OD of the flange end is about ½” wider than the OD of the tubing. Size is based on the Tube OD and not on the Flange OD. For Example a 1.5” Tri-Clover Fitting has a 1.5” OD on the Tube, even though the Flange OD is closer to 2”.

The 1/2" and 3/4" Tri Clamp fittings have the same flange end size of almost 1” (0.984”). This may cause one to think these are the 1” size. Likewise the 1" and 1.5" fittings both have a flange end of almost 2” (1.984"). Again this may cause one to think these are the 2” size.  Furthermore the ½” and ¾” both use a ¾” Clamp. Similarly the 1” and the 1.5” both use a 1.5” Clamp. For Clarification see the Tri-Clamp Sizing Guide table below for Clamp size compared to the actual flange end size.

1) Tube Size (OD)

3) Flange End Size (OD)

2) Tri-Clamp Size

1/2"; 3/4"

0.984"

3/4" Clamp

1"; 1.5"

1.984"

1.5" Clamp

2"

2.516"

2" Clamp

2.5"

3.047"

2.5" Clamp

3"

3.579"

3" Clamp

4"

4.682"

4" Clamp

6”

6.570”

6” Clamp

Although the ½” and ¾” will connect with each other as will the 1” and 1.5”, it is important to note that their ID (Internal diameter) will differ. The ID of the ¾” is wider than the ½” and the ID of the 1.5” is wider than the 1”. So it is up to the user to decide if mixing and matching sizes will be suitable for your application. In many cases this could save money and allow you to conveniently jump tube sizes however it could also affect flow, draining and cleaning in a way that may not suit your particular application.

The most popular size used by breweries and for home brewing is the 1” and 1.5” sizes. Since they both have the same flange end size, they can interconnect with each other. For example a 1.5” Tri-Clamp Ball valve will connect with a 1”Ferrule.