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What Are Valves And How Do They Work?

Sunday, August 13, 2023


Find out everything you need to know from valve types and standards to materials and uses

Information provided by UnifiedAlloys


At their most basic, valves are devices that work to control, regulate, or direct flow within a system or process.

They often feature a range of characteristics that help to define their ideal application.

However, whether you’re looking to control flow, or provide safety in a system that is piping liquids, solids, gasses or anything in between, there are likely stainless steel valves available to help.

Valves provide several functions, including:

  • Starting or stopping flow based on the valve state
  • Regulating flow and pressure within a piping system
  • Controlling the direction of flow within a piping system
  • Throttling flow rates within a piping system
  • Improving safety through relieving pressure or vacuum in a piping system


While many valves accomplish similar goals, how they do so mechanically can vary.

How a valve opens and closes will not only impact the overall performance but also determine how much control you have over the flow and how quickly the valve can operate.

Most valves fit into one of three categories:

  • Multi-Turn valves: Think of these valves like a screw or piston. You crank the handle and the plug, plate, membrane, or other controlling obstruction moves into the path of the pipe blocking access. Depending on the valve, these can have higher or lower differentials allowing you to open or close them at various speeds.
  • Quarter-turn valves: Quarter-turn valves offer a full range of motion in a 90-degree turn of the handle. This makes them ideal for situations where precision isn’t as important as rapid action and easy opening or closing.

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