What is Waveguide Tubing?

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- everything RF

Jul 22, 2022

A Waveguide tube is a hollow metal pipe that acts as an electromagnetic feed line for use in RF & microwave communications, broadcasting, radar applications, etc. This metal tube or pipe comes in various shapes and sizes and propagates electromagnetic waves lengthwise. Click here to see companies that manufacturer waveguide tubing.

Electromagnetic fields propagate along a waveguide tube in various ways. Two common modes are transverse-magnetic (TM) and transverse-electric (TE). In TM mode, the magnetic lines of flux are perpendicular to the axis (along the length) of the waveguide tube. In TE mode, the electric lines of flux are perpendicular to the axis of the waveguide tube. These modes of propagation provide low loss and high efficiency as long as the interior of the waveguide tube is kept clean and dry.

Waveguide tubes are available in various cross-section shapes like rectangle, oval, circle, double-ridge, and square. They are made of standard dielectric or conductive metals such as Copper, Bronze, Brass, Aluminum, Nickel Iron, Cupro-Nickel Alloy, Invar (Nickel Alloy), etc. Waveguide tubes made of dielectric materials can confine electromagnetic waves by total internal reflection and hence provide lower losses than metal waveguide tubing. Waveguide tubing can also be made flexible using materials like brass and phosphorous bronze for manufacture. The size and shape of the waveguide cross-section, the material used, wall thickness, length, etc. properties of the waveguide tube are decided according to the frequency of the waves that will pass through them and their applications.

Waveguide tubes must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal that passes through them to function properly. If the wavelength of the signal is too long (or frequency is too low) compared to the cross-section of the waveguide tube, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide tube will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal. Waveguide tubing can also be used to guide sound waves and in some situations, they are used to transfer communication signals as well as power.

Waveguide tubes are used as a transmission line mostly at microwave frequencies, for connecting microwave transmitters and receivers to their antennas, in equipment such as microwave ovens, radar sets, satellite communications, and microwave radio links. They are important components in defense, aerospace, telecommunications, fabrication, etc. industries. Waveguides are manufactured both in standard sizes and lengths as well as according to custom specifications for other manufacturing companies.

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Click here to see all the different waveguide sizes.