Compressed Air Piping Systems

Monday 22 August 2016

The Basics of Compressor Piping

Posted at 8:48 AM

The Basics of Compressor Piping

Compressed air distribution systems play a big part in the day-to-day processes of a number of manufacturing industries. In fact, as many as 70% of all manufacturers use some sort of a compressed air system. These pieces of machinery can serve a number of purposes, including maintaining a steady air pressure level and temperature in a working area or operating machinery like CNC and pneumatic machines.

The efficiency of a compressed air distribution system relies heavily on one particular factor -- the air compressor piping. These pipes act as the vehicle that transports the compressed air to your work areas. As such, they must be carefully selected and installed in order to ensure maximum performance.

Of course, selecting the right compressor piping can be a more complicated task than it may seem. Sufficient knowledge and proper insight are required. So that you are fully prepared to make such a decision, here are some helpful tips and tricks.

What You Need to Know About Compression Piping
The first thing you should know about compressed air distribution systems is that they are not cheap to install and maintain. Unfortunately, poor installation and care can cause a system’s efficiency to decrease significantly. Much of this is related to the piping.

There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to compressor piping: the more air you need, the bigger the pipes will have to be. This rule is based entirely on pressure drop. Realistically, the air will always experience some amount of pressure loss as it travels through the pipes. This results from friction and resistance.

Your goal is to minimize this drop as much as possible. Ideally, a properly designed system will lose less than 10% of the compressor’s discharge pressure, which is found on a gauge on the outlet of the compressor. If the pressure loss is greater than 10%, evaluate your distribution system and identify areas causing excessive drops.

Most likely, the best way to minimize pressure loss is to install wider pipes. Shorter, wider pipes maintain pressure better than longer, narrower pipes. If you keep this in mind while designing and installing your air compression system, you are likely to have a more efficient system and better results overall.

When it comes down to it, making a minor change in the kind of piping you use may be all it takes to build a more efficient system. Metal and plastic are the most common materials used in compressor piping. Choose your material based on the needs of your operation, including the level of air pressure your compressor system is going to produce.

By keeping these factors in mind and making sure your compression system is installed properly, you are taking the first steps in ensuring optimal efficiency and superior results.