Plastic tubes are hollow channels that vary in length, diameter, wall thickness, and strength. They are commonly used for a multitude of piping purposes. There is a wide range of applications that plastic tubing and plastic piping can be used for, and there is just as wide of a variety of materials from which the tubing can be fabricated.
Some materials that are widely used are flexible vinyl, polyurethane, low and high-density polyethylene, rigid vinyl, polycarbonate, polystyrene and PETG, and an assortment of nylon materials. Each material that tubing can be made of has its own set of qualities that set them apart from other materials.
Acrylic tubes can be made to be opaque or near-transparent. Acrylic tubes are naturally clear, and are therefore used extensively in applications where the materials moving through the tubes must be observed. Clear plastic is important in fabricating tubing products for the medical industry. Furthermore, acrylic tubes can be colored, making it much easier to organize tubes that are in close proximity to one another.
Those who are looking for a sturdier material can look for polyethylene tubing, or poly tubing. High-density polyethylene tubes, or HDPE tubes for short, are ideal for high-impact applications. Low-density polyethylene tubes or LDPE tubes, are much more flexible and are widely used for pneumatic equipment.
Low-density polyethylene can make flexible tubing, while high-density polyethylene is used to create tubing that is stronger, more rigid, and more impact-resistant. Read More…
Another type of tubing that is used for pneumatic applications is nylon tubing, certain varieties of which can be derived from non-petroleum-based raw nylon.
Nylon tubing is heat and crack resistant, and can be used for applications such as automotive fuel lines and refrigerator water lines. Because of its versatility, nylon tubing is used for industries such as aerospace, filtration, medical technology, irrigation, laboratory, and many more.
Vinyl tubing is constructed of plastics that belong to the vinyl group of chemicals. The most widely used and well-known variety of plastic tubing is polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. PVC tubing is one of the most versatile plastic materials available. It is widely used in industries such as consumer, construction, industrial, heating and cooling, and plumbing.
PVC is resistant to corrosion, doesn’t conduct electricity, is nontoxic, is resilient to a range of extreme temperatures and varying pressures, and can accommodate high flow volumes. These positive traits make PVC tubing a wise choice to use in applications such as food processing, brewing, pool operation, and industrial wastewater management.
You can find raw plastic materials in several places. Most of these materials are hydrocarbon-based. This means that most of these plastic materials can be derived from refined petroleum products. For example, there are some varieties of raw plastics such as nylon 11 that can be derived from a renewable resource known as castor oil.
There are other raw plastics that are derived from non-hydrocarbon sources. A stock of raw plastic can be refined and shaped into plastic tubing using one of several methods. One of the methods is known as cell casting, which is one of the oldest methods of plastic tubing fabrication. In the cell casting process, molten plastic is poured in to a tube-shaped recess. This process has several drawbacks, however. It is costly, labor intensive, and time-consuming, and inconsistent.
Plastic grates, stair treads, and some plastic tubing can be made from pultrusion. Pultrusion is a process which combines plastic resins with fibers, creating an exceptionally strong and durable material. Pultrusion is widely used in applications that involve frequent or heavy impact between tubing and equipment or other moving objects.
While pultrusion is a popular method, plastic extrusion is used much more extensively, and is the most efficient and effective method of plastic tubing fabrication. The plastic extrusion method is capable of producing tubes of any plastic material of any thickness and width. The first step in the process begins with collecting stock, or the raw plastic material.
Next, the stock is loaded into a hopper that is suspended above a conveyance channel. The stock is then pushed through by a long screw located in the conveyance channel. The friction caused by the turning screw as well as heating elements that are built into the conveyance channel melt the stock to a liquid state as it passes through.
At the end of the channel is a die, which is a tool that is used to shape raw material into a product. In this particular case, the die is a metal plate with a specifically designed hole through which the molten stock is forced. The stock then emerges from the die as a freshly extruded plastic tube which can be cut to length, prepared for shipping, or sent for additional processing.
Cylindrical tubing is not suitable for all applications, however. Therefore, there are some tubing fabricators who make square plastic tubing and many other tubing shapes available.