What is the Difference between “BUY AMERICAN” and “BUY AMERICA” for the Manufacturing of Metal Expansion Joints

There is a lot of confusion between “Buy America” and “Buy American Act” as they are not the same.


With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , commonly referred to as the Obama ‘Stimulus Plan’, there was a substantial increase of federal funds handed out  to federal, state and local governments.  There are a number of requirements imposed upon contractors and their suppliers regarding the origin of materials that will be utilized in connection with the manufacturing of metal bellows expansion joints used on these projects.

There are two clauses that are commonly referenced with government projects which are known as the “Buy America” and “Buy American Act”. These clauses are incorporated within purchase orders or contacts that are issued in connection with federal, state or local projects that may include expansion joints.  These clauses contain very specific requirements that are related to the final product containing a certain percentage of domestic or USA manufactured goods or components.

BUY AMERICAN ACT:  Typically applies when the federal government is directly purchasing products or materials or a federal building or facility is being constructed (such as US highways, federal prisons, etc.) Expansion joints purchased for these projects.

Domestic Requirement: Requires 51% of the components of the final expansion joint to be made in the United States.

The “Buy American Act” is less expensive and easier to comply with for metal expansion joint manufacturers in the United States than the Buy America requirements.  The metal bellows component of the expansion joint is usually already made with domestic materials. In addition the flow liners, protective covers, tie rods and tie rod lugs are also usually already made with domestic materials.

The most common end fittings used in the manufacture of bellows expansion joints are flanges imported from many countries around the world.  While there are still domestic flange manufacturers left such as Texas Flange and Buffalo Flange there is a definite price difference.  Most often the requirements of the “Buy American Act” is satisfied when import flanges or beveled weld ends are used as components to manufacture metal expansion joints here in the united states.


BUY AMERICA:  Usually applies to state and local government projects when these projects are funded by the Federal Transit Authority.

Domestic Requirement: Requires 100% of the components of supplies or construction materials to be made in the United States.

The “Buy America Act” is more expensive and harder to comply with for metal expansion joint manufacturers in the United States than the Buy American requirements.  Import plate flanges commonly used to manufacture metal bellows expansion joints are no longer an option.  Plate flanges must be custom manufactured from domestic plate.

This can add substantial cost to an expansion joint when domestic stainless steel plate flanges are required.  Domestic forged steel and stainless steel flanges can usually be found but at a significantly higher cost.


There are exceptions and cost based waivers to both Buy America and Buy American.  To read more about the exceptions go to links below.

Buy America

Buy American

By |2015-11-14T10:15:54+00:00November 14th, 2015|0 Comments

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