Are you looking to choose the best material for a compressed air system pipe? There are many choices for compressed air piping materials. The choice of piping material is a decision that must be made between performance, cost, and aesthetics. Below are the pros and cons of each of these materials.
Plastic compressed air pipe is lightweight, non-corrosive, and easy to install. Plastics come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Plastic piping should be durable enough to withstand years of use. It also needs to resist oils and lubricants that can damage it from the compressed air system. You must ensure that any plastic piping used in compressed air systems is OSHA-approved. OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Plastic pipes get brittle over time and can crack, break, or even shatter.
PVC and CPVC: These pipes are not OSHA approved forcompressed air systems. PVC and CPVC can be very cost-effective and are easy to use. They are very popular in plumbing and other applications due to these characteristics.OSHA has now banned the use of CPVC and PVC piping in compressed air systems.
OSHA doesn’t allow PVC and CPVC to be used in compressed air piping because these plastics aren’t strong enough for high-pressure applications like compressed air distribution. These plastics can also be damaged by oils and lubricants in the compressor. This can lead to cracks and splintering. This will eventually lead to increased air leakage and a greater risk of an unexpected dangerous rupture.
Black Iron Pipes
Since long, black iron piping has been a standard in compressed air delivery. Black metal piping can be found in older installations. It is strong and durable so it can withstand a lot of abuse. These pipes are made using traditional welding and threading techniques. They can be installed by any plumber who has the appropriate fittings from their local hardware store.
There are some drawbacks to iron piping:
- Iron pipes are heavy and must be anchored to suspended piping systems.
- It can be hard to cut and join iron, so a skilled plumber or a welder is required to install it. Joins and welds are often the sources of leaks.
- Black iron piping is most vulnerable to corrosion when exposed to moisture from an air compressor.
- Iron piping can become rusty and cause blockages.
Galvanized Steel Pipes
Galvanized steel pipes have many of the same benefits and drawbacks as their black iron counterparts, but one important exception is that galvanization greatly reduces the risk of corrosion. This makes it a popular choice in compressed air systems.
Galvanized piping can degrade over time. The zinc coating can flake inside the piping and cause blockages or fouling of the air lines. Sharp flakes can also pose a safety risk when they are blown from the air lines at high speed.
Stainless Steel Pipes
Stainless steel is the most durable and resistant to corrosion of all the steel and iron pipe alternatives. Stainless steel piping is not susceptible to corrosion like galvanized or black iron piping. This makes it an excellent choice for applications that require the removal of particulates and rust from the airstream. It looks amazing too.
Stainless steel can be difficult to cut and work with. This makes it a challenging material that requires skilled installers who have the right tools and training. It is as heavy as iron and can also leak around joints and welds. It is not a common choice for compressed air system pipes because of its high price and few of these disadvantages.
Copper pipe is another option for compressed air piping that is corrosion-free. Copper pipe is lighter than iron, and it’s easier to install than stainless steel. Copper piping is similar to iron in that it uses standard fittings and joining techniques. Copper is a popular choice in plumbing and makes it an attractive option for compressed air systems.
Copper’s main disadvantage is its high cost. Copper’s cost has increased dramatically over the past few years making it less attractive for compressed air system design.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, aluminum compressed air piping systems have grown in popularity. Aluminum pipes have the following benefits:
- Lightweight (three times lighter than iron piping)
- Zero corrosion
- High resistance to leaks
- Easy installation
Aluminum modular compressed air piping systems are simple to modify and install. Modular piping systems don’t require anchoring or support. These systems do not require a hot-work permit and can be installed without brazing, threading, or welding.
The modular aluminum system is light and corrosion-free. This versatile system has the largest product range to transport compressed air, inert gas, and vacuum, as well as high-pressure air or fluids. It comes in many sizes, pressures, and fittings.
Here are some other advantages:
- All fittings and piping are made of 100% aluminum
- It comes in a wide range of sizes.
- It can be used for very wide pressure.
- There are no special tools are needed for assembly and installation. There is no need to crimp or groove. All pieces can be connected quickly and easily.
Compressed Air Piping from RapidAir Products
Protect your investment with our aluminum pipes that always deliver clean air. Let RapidAir Products help you in choosing the right pipes for your compressed air systems. We will help you choose, install, and maintain your compressed piping. We can help you design the piping layout that will give you maximum performance. We will also recommend the correct size of compressed air pipe for your specific needs.
Let us know if you need help with installing or updating your compressed air systems. Contact RapidAir Products to schedule a consultation for your compressed air system.