Flexible plastic tubing is a broad term used to describe the bending capabilities of any tubing made from a plastic or plastics. Such plastics include: polyurethane, nylon, polyvinyl chloride (PVC, or, more commonly, vinyl), polyethylene, polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF, which goes by the name brand "Kynar"), fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) and static dissipative polyurethane.
The flexibility of any given flexible plastic tubing ranges based on the plastic from which it is made. For example, both PVC and polyurethane are very flexible. Nylon, polyethylene, Kynar and FEP, on the other hand, as harder plastics, are far less flexible than the former, though they are still certainly more flexible than pipe. Additionally, all of these plastics have differing qualities that present different merits. Flexible plastic tubing made from polyurethane, in addition to being extremely flexible, resists kinks, chemicals and abrasions and has a superior memory for coiled tubing or self-storing hose applications. Specifically, it is exceptionally resistant to most gasolines, oils, kerosene and other petroleum-based chemicals. It may be ordered in a number of different hardnesses. PVC, which is as flexible as rubber, is lightweight, yet quite strong and resistant to abrasion. PVC tubing can handle a wide variety of liquids, chemicals and gases. Nylon, Kynar and FEP all have excellent memories and can be made into self-storing hoses. Polyethylene, while not boasting as strong of a memory, is the most widely used plastic in the world, so it is an economical choice for those applications that do not require quite as flexible of tubing. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) is quite resistant to cracks, can be used with a wide range of temperatures, and is often approved for use with potable water and other food handling applications. High density polyethylene (HDPE), while not as flexible, stands up to sterilization by boiling and withstands corrosive materials.
Some applications for which flexible plastic tubing is called upon are: air and gas lines, chemical lines, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, instrumentation, laboratory and research, agriculture, material handling, transfer lines for internal contamination fluids, hydraulic control, protective jacketing, pump feed and discharge, refrigeration and water and fluid lines.
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