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Understanding Compressed Air Piping Systems (Part 2)

27 November 2020

After knowing the importance of compressed air and the principles behind the compressed air piping systems, one element that should be discussed about these systems is their piping. You see, compressed air piping systems cannot work optimally if they do not possess high-quality piping. Incompatible pipe material and layout can make these systems operate poorly and cause some issues.

Primary Material Options for Pipes

To date, there are two primary material options that you can choose for your pipes.

  1. Plastic Pipes

With various technological enhancements, plastic pipes can now outperform other pipe options when it comes to specific elements. For instance, plastic pipes are known to resist corrosion and other harsh surrounding elements, preventing any debris from dropping into the main airflow. Additionally, plastic pipes have a smooth interior surface. These pipes are also easy to process, transport, and install.

One thing to know, though, is that the type of plastic you must use for the compressed air piping system must be durable enough to resist corrosion, cracking, breaking, and shattering. Some types of plastic pipes that you may use are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyethylene, and high-density polyethylene. These plastic materials are oil-resistant, ensuring that they cannot be damaged by compressor lubricants.

  1. Metal Pipes

When it comes to compressed air piping systems, many would choose metal pipes over plastic ones due to the former’s reliability and longevity. Metal pipes are known to be safer than other options since they do not break easily, even under extreme conditions. These pipes are also known for their ability to not warp and sustain strength against fracture and blowouts.

There are tons of metal types that you can choose for your pipes. Black steel is known to be the most recommended among metal types due to its durability. Both aluminium and copper can also be used in compressed air piping systems since they are lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Pipes that you must avoid, however, include galvanised steel pipes and black iron pipes.

Considerations for Piping Layout

The performance and efficiency of the compressed air piping system can be affected by sharp angles, moisture, and obstructions.

Any presence of sharp angles within your piping layout can easily reduce airflow and pressure. As the compressed air passes through sharp angles of the piping system, it can subsequently create a convoluted airflow path, which only leads to a drop in pressure and an inefficient system. Therefore, sharp angles must be avoided when designing the piping layout.

As for the presence of moisture, it can easily corrode and damage some types of pipes. Rust flakes can occur due to corrosion, which could easily travel through the piping system and make their way into the equipment. Drying the air can effectively solve moisture problems. Changing the supply inlet source of the compressor can also resolve the moisture issue.

Products due to corrosion can accumulate as time passes by, which then form into serious obstructions on the piping system. Rust flakes can make the pipe diameter smaller. They can even make their way to connectors, valves, sensors, and dryers, affecting their performance in the long run. Opting for corrosion-resistant pipe materials can easily prevent the occurrence of obstructions.

Having a good pipe material and layout can save energy costs, prolong equipment service life, improve production, and alleviate the needed maintenance requirements for the equipment.


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