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How Does a Needle Valve Work?

We specialize in Superlok needle valves, so we're sharing what a needle valve is, their working principle and some common uses of these valves. Read more.

How Does A Needle Valve Work

Do you work with needle valves or are you preparing to start? We’ve put a guide together for all things needle valve in case you come across unfamiliar terminology when working on a project.In our guide, you’ll read about what they are, how they work and some of the different ways they’re commonly used. After checking out our synopsis, you’ll discover a broader spectrum of the ins and outs of working with and using needle valves.

What Is a Needle Valve?

A valve is a device that sits along the line of a pipe or passage and is used to adjust the flow of air or liquid that’s allowed to travel along the passage. There are many types of valves with different functional capabilities and features. The valve we’re going to be digging into is called a needle valve.A needle valve is a particular type of valve, one which has an unusually small port and a needle-shaped plunger that moves up and down within the confines of the port. In this way, it resembles a needle inside a syringe, which is how it gets its name. The plunger can be moved up and down within the port, allowing for more precise flow control.Some valves only have two settings which are open and closed, but a needle valve might be half-open, barely open, or fully open creating the opportunity for greater precision.

How Are Needle Valves Made?

How Are Needle Valves Made

When needle valves are in-use they will be under stress to hold back large amounts of liquid and gas. The liquids and gases may contain chemicals that can be damaging to many materials and it’s essential the valves are made from highly durable material.Stainless steel is the most common choice, as this metal is resistant to most forms of chemical damage, corrosion, and rust and will last for years without needing to be replaced. It’s also quite low-maintenance. Carbon steel and brass are additional common material choices. Another critical characteristic of needle valves is they must be able to withstand extreme temperatures. Often, those same liquids or gases being pushed through the valves are extremely hot or cold. Both variables can be damaging, and special considerations must be taken during construction to ensure the needle valves are protected.Needle valves are used in a variety of settings for a range of applications and there are many different types of needle valves to choose from for your chosen application.Here are the primary qualifications for a well-constructed needle valve: they must be durable, sturdy, and resistant to chemicals and extreme temperature damage.

Where Are Needle Valves Used?

Needle valves are commonly used products. They are specifically useful in regulating precise flow and exact calibration in small channel applications.Needle valves are used across a wide range of industries that work with fluid control applications. A few of the common industries include:

  • Petrochemicals
  • Biofuels
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Chemicals
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Sugar
  • Food

How Do Needle Valves Work?

The basic principle for a needle valve is that the needle part of the valve is depressed or withdrawn to either restrict or enable the flow of liquid or gas through the tube. Let’s take a look at how this process works.The needle valve, while it consists of a whole host of intricate pieces that fit together, functions primarily because of the two major components known as the needle and the seat. The needle is, of course, the conical-shaped plunger that is either depressed into or retracted from the channel to control flow. The seat is a term for the space where the needle enters the channel through which the air or liquid is flowing. In other words, the seat is the space into which the needle enters.Needles and seats are designed to be exact fits to one another. This means that when the needle is put into place and has been fully depressed, there will be no air gaps at all for any gas or liquid to escape. They’re the perfect size, and this is intentional.The external look of the needle valve consists of a handle, which is either a bar handle or a round handle that the user can easily grasp and connects to the stem. In a needle valve diagram, this will be the primary differing piece you can see.Internally, the needle fits into the seat and is threaded like a screw for ease of operation. For the needle valve to work, the user will rotate the stem, comfortably gripping the handle for ease of rotation. As the needle rotates, the threaded sides turn, and the needle is either lowered or raised out of the seat. Because of the threading, the actual change in needle depth for every turn is extremely minimal. This allows for maximum precision, as the needle can be raised or lowered by the tiniest of degrees.The savvy thinker may immediately jump to the potential problem of the entire piece becoming too highly pressurized and not being able to handle the buildup of pressure in such a small space once the flow has been cut off. However, the simple fact is this piece can work precisely because it’s so small. The opening is small compared to the rest of the body, meaning that high-pressure is not a problem. On the flip side of this, however, the small opening typically means that these aren’t ideal for high-flow situations.

What Are the Advantages of Needle Valves?

As discussed earlier, there are many types of valves and they all perform the same basic function of regulating the level of flow allowed through a passage. However, each different type offers its unique set of advantages and benefits that may make it more suited to certain tasks above others.Needle valves have their own specific set of advantages, not to say they’re the best valve out there, simply because there’s no such thing as a “best valve.” Rather, it’s more accurate to say that the needle valve is the best valve for particular situations like the ones we mentioned earlier where you rely on high levels of precision and accuracy.How can you determine if a needle valve is the best fit for your intended application? It’s helpful to know about the specific advantages and disadvantages of needle valves so we compiled a list, check it out here!

Needle Valves: The Pros

  • Flexibility: The very simplest of valves only offer two options. Either the flow is open, or it is closed. Needle valves are entirely different in this regard, as they allow you to choose an entire range of midway options. You might set the flow so that it’s very low, but still moving, or almost at the maximum, but not quite. This allows for extreme adaptability. Whatever situation you encounter, you’re likely to be able to adjust the valve to meet it.
  • Precision: With a needle valve, precision is always going to be the number one watchword. This is the headline feature that typically leads people to choose this valve over another. Because the needle can be shifted to such small degrees, users can regulate the flow in exact measurements. This makes the needle valve an excellent choice for settings where exact numbers and measurements are critical.
  • Increased efficiency: Because the flow can be controlled so precisely, users can achieve an unprecedented level of efficiency. Rather than allowing far greater flow than necessary and wasting fuel or gas, users can use only the exact amount needed, saving money and energy at the same time.
  • High safety levels: As a natural side-effect of the precision and adaptability of these valves, these are some of the safest valves on the market today. Nothing flows through unless it’s meant to, meaning there is far less chance of leakage, breakage, or damage which could lead to dangerous situations.

Needle Valves: The Cons

There aren’t too many downsides to needle valves, but nothing is entirely without drawbacks. Rather than thinking of these as flaws that count against the needle valve, instead, think of them as areas where the needle valve is not quite as strong. These points may be the area of expertise of a different valve design.

  • Incompatibility with high-flow situations: The opening where the needle fits into the seat is extremely small, not allowing much liquid or gas through at a time even when the opening is entirely unobstructed. Due to this structural reality, a needle valve is not the best choice for high-flow settings.
  • Inability to “eyeball it”: Multiple times now, we’ve mentioned how integral precision is to the needle valve’s nature. Every turn of the handle represents the minimal raising and lowering of the needle. Because all this is happening within the confines of the seat, however, the user is usually unable to make an educated guess about the needle’s location. Someone using a needle valve would be unable to turn the needle a few places, take a quick look to gauge the result, and then determine that the position was correct. Instead, precision must always be used.

Mako Products' Needle Valves

Here at Mako Products, we offer threaded needle valves and compression needle valves.We’re proud to be your number one source for Superlok products, and that includes Superlok’s top-of-the-line needle valves.The Superlok compression end needle valves are outfitted with new technology to prevent under- or over-tightening. This technology is a built-in gap gauge that includes two red rings that pop-off when the tube ends have been tightened properly ensuring that the seal is rock-solid every time, with no leaks or safety issues.In addition to this extra feature, Superlok’s needle valve technology ticks all the boxes you’ve come to expect from a needle valve. They offer precision flow control, high levels of flexibility and adaptability, and increased efficiency. Additionally, Superlok’s needle valves are compatible with every other major brand out there, allowing you to use these within your current systems.Finally, these needle valves are crafted from the most durable stainless steel and can withstand temperatures ranging from -65 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit depending on which needle valve you choose. This makes them a viable choice even for extreme conditions, where other needle valves might not be up to the strain.

Shop Superlok Needle Valve Products Today at Mako Products

Shop Superlok Needle Valve Products at Mako Products

Have you made up your mind to purchase needle valves today? Then we’d like to invite you to shop our catalog of options here at Mako Products. Enjoy equipment that goes above and beyond doing the job of a simple needle valve.If you’re ready to begin shopping for needle valves, then we encourage you to learn more about our offerings here at Mako Products. Contact us to learn more.

The Author

Sarah Myers
Customer Care Manager
Sarah is our four star customer care team general. She's seen it all when it comes to customer needs and questions, so we let her write articles about them from time to time. We've never seen here away from her desk. We think she might sleep there...

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