An axial expansion joint accommodates movements along the length of a pipe. Because it cannot accommodate bending or twisting movements, it is very often used with welding ends and fixed or loose flanges in straight pipe runs.
Lateral movements result in transverse displacement of the connection surfaces of the pipeline. Lateral expansion joints are used, for example, to accommodate offsets between structures when pipelines have to be run through several parts of the building.
Angular expansion joints accommodate angular movements. This is generally done with a hinged joint that can move in only one plane. Accommodating angular movements in more than one plane requires more than one expansion joint. This type of arrangement can accommodate quite large movements.
Universal expansion joints can accommodate axial, lateral and angular movements. They are very versatile and can be used with large movement amplitudes, however, they are suitable only for low pressure systems because of their relative lack of strength.