Nominal Pipe Size (NPS) is a North American set of standard sizes for pipes used for high or low pressures and temperatures. "Nominal" refers to pipe in non-specific terms and identifies the diameter of the hole with a non-dimensional number (for example – 2-inch nominal steel pipe" consists of many varieties of steel pipe with the only criterion being a 2.375-inch (60.3 mm) outside diameter). Specific pipe is identified by pipe diameter and another non-dimensional number for wall thickness referred to as the Schedule (Sched. or Sch., for example – "2-inch diameter pipe, Schedule 40"). NPS is often incorrectly called National Pipe Size, due to confusion with the American standard for pipe threads, "national pipe straight", which also abbreviates as "NPS". The European and international designation equivalent to NPS is DN (diamètre nominal/nominal diameter/Nennweite), in which sizes are measured in millimetres, see ISO 6708. The term NB (nominal bore) is also frequently used interchangeably with DN.
In March 1927 the American Standards Association authorized a committee to standardize the dimensions of wrought steel and wrought iron pipe and tubing. At that time only a small selection of wall thicknesses were in use: standard weight (STD), extra-strong (XS), and double extra-strong (XXS), based on the iron pipe size (IPS) system of the day. However these three sizes did not fit all applications. Also, in 1939, it was hoped that the designations of STD, XS, and XXS would be phased out by schedule numbers, however those original terms are still in common use today (although sometimes referred to as standard, extra-heavy (XH), and double extra-heavy (XXH), respectively). Since the original schedules were created, there have been many revisions and additions to the tables of pipe sizes based on industry use and on standards from API, ASTM, and others.Stainless steel pipes, which were coming into more common use in the mid 20th century, permitted the use of thinner pipe walls with much less risk of failure due to corrosion. By 1949 thinner schedules 5S and 10S, which were based on the pressure requirements modified to the nearest BWG number, had been created, and other "S" sizes followed later. Due to their thin walls, the smaller "S" sizes can not be threaded together according to ASME code, but must be fusion welded.
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