Types of Flume Materials

If you’re looking to install a flume in an open channel system, there are quite a few considerations when it comes to finding the right fit. In addition to the various types and designs available for flumes that cater to different channel conditions, you’ll also have to choose the material your flume will be made from. Here’s everything you need to know about the most popular types of flume materials.

Stainless Steel

Of all the available materials for flumes, stainless steel might just have the longest lifespan based solely on normal flow conditions. In fact, some figures would render stainless steel flumes to be virtually indefinitely viable. While that may make it seem like the clearly superior option, there are quite a few downsides you need to be aware of.

Stainless steel is a relatively costly material that’s not commonly used in normal flow conditions. Because a standard flow is so easy on a flume’s material, using stainless steel is effectively overkill. Instead, it’s typically reserved for more abusive and corrosive flows that would otherwise degrade the material of the flume. Of course, the flow will eventually corrode the stainless steel as well, making its indefinite viability irrelevant.

Galvanized Steel

Think of galvanized steel as a more budget-friendly version of stainless steel. It’s used predominantly in freshwater applications because galvanized steel’s longevity is dependent on the degradation speed of its zinc coating. Because zinc only corrodes at a significant rate due to water impurities, freshwater flow rates are ideal for this material’s application.

Unfortunately, there are some areas where galvanized steel simply isn’t practical. Freshwater alone isn’t enough to guarantee a long lifespan. The western part of the United States, especially around the Rocky Mountains, is known for its very hard water. This will corrode galvanized steel relatively quickly, compromising the integrity of your flume and all measurement efforts.


Fiberglass is a unique material for flumes thanks to its universal applicability and long life span. While the corrosiveness and abusive nature of a flow plays a major role in longevity, a fiberglass flume will typically last anywhere between 15 and 20 years. This is thanks to the outer gel coat that protects the underlying fiberglass laminate. Not only does this gel coat help protect against debris, but it also provides UV protection, so it’s useful for outdoor applications.

To seriously wear the gel coat away, the flow would need to be severely abusive, and even then, the coat will last for a long time. Typical corrosion factors don’t affect fiberglass flumes all that much, as the polyester resin can withstand a variety of chemicals at typical temperatures one might experience outside.

Fiberglass Flumes From Tracom

Of all the types of flume materials available, fiberglass tends to be the best option if you’re looking for long-lasting compatibility with your flow channel. At Tracom, our team will work with you to craft the ultimate fiberglass flume that’s uniquely suited to your flow conditions. Given the nature of fiberglass, a wide variety of different designs can be easily accomplished without any cracks or seams. Contact us today to get started!

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