Plastic Tubing: Raising the Standard
Plastic manufacturers are striving to make other industries
aware of the benefits associated with plastic products. Plastic has a growing
number of advantages that can be utilized in nearly every single sector of the
market. Many companies that develop plastic products are trying to catch the
eye of architects for construction purposes. There is a growing trend to create
buildings with more sustainability. Plastic solutions are a catalyst for
improving the energy efficiency of a building. New and innovated houses are now
energy efficient options for people who wish to create less of a carbon
footprint. Unique products such as closed-cell spray polyurethane foam and
cross-linked polyethylene tubing are beneficial heating solutions. These newer
design are also frontrunner the diverse possibilities that manufacturers will
create which will be paramount for creating a more environmentally friendly
With all of these new innovations there is an exploding
growth in demand for plastic solutions. Not only are plastic items relatively
easy to manufacture but they are also simple to install. This simplicity is a
major factor regarding to the success in the plastic industry. The easy
installation and low maintenance make plastic an ideal choice over steel,
copper, concrete or wood for many applications. There are many tasks that may
require the strength of stainless steel however plastic tubing products come at
a fraction of the cost. Through increased demands for plastic and constantly
improving innovations we are guaranteed to see more uses for plastic products
in the future.
Every different variety of plastic tubing features its own set of special qualities. Vinyl tubing and acrylic tubes can be engineered to be near-transparent or opaque; clear plastic tubing products are some of the most important kinds of medical tubing. Polyethylene tubing, or poly tubing, can be made of any one of the many varieties of raw polyethylene materials available; high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tubes are rigid, strong, durable and used in applications where impact-resistant, sturdy tubing is necessary, while low-density polyethylene (LDPE) can be used to make flexible tubing. Nylon tubing is used in pneumatic equipment applications; certain varieties of nylon tubing can be derived from non-petroleum-based raw nylon. PVC tubing is one of the most widely used varieties of plastic tubing and piping. It can be engineered to be thick and durable, and, because it is a vinyl-based product, it can be engineered to be near-transparent. The many PVC varieties available are used in industrial, commercial and consumer construction, heating and cooling, plumbing and in many other applications. For applications that require tubing with exceptional qualities of strength and durability, pultrusions feature integrated fibers to make plastic tubing stronger. For situations in which cylindrical tubing is not appropriate, some tubing fabricators make square plastic tubing available for their customers.
The range of plastic tubing and piping applications is just as wide as the number of different plastic tubing fabrication materials. These materials include polyurethane, flexible vinyl, low and high-density polyethylene, many varieties of nylon, polycarbonate, rigid vinyl, ABS, high impact polystyrene and PETG. Each of these plastic materials lends different qualities to finished plastic tubing products. Acrylic tubes, which are naturally clear and flexible, are excellent for uses in which the flow and volume of materials moving through tubing must be observed easily. Acrylic tubes can also be colored, which makes easier the organization of many different tubes in close proximity to each other. Low density polyethylene can be processed to create flexible tubing, while high-density polyethylene is used to create rigid, strong, impact resistant tubing. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is among the most versatile plastic materials and can be used to make thick plumbing pipes and clear tubes for healthcare applications. PVC's tolerance for a range of extreme temperatures, resistance to changing pressures and its capacity for accommodating high flow volumes make it a good choice for use in industrial applications and in wastewater management contexts.
Raw plastic materials come from a few places. Most of them are hydrocarbon-based, which means that most plastics are derived from refined petroleum products. Some raw plastic varieties, like nylon 11, can be derived from castor oil, a renewable resource, and a limited number of other raw plastics are derivatives of non-hydrocarbon sources. Once a stock of raw plastic has been refined for use as plastic tubing, it can be shaped into tubing by one of several methods. Cell casting, a method in which molten plastic is poured into a tube-shaped recess, is one of the older methods of plastic tube fabrication. Compared to other methods, though, it is inefficient, time consuming, costly, labor intensive and produces variable products. Another method developed in the middle of the 20th century is pultrusion, which is the process of combining fibers with plastic resins in order to produce a stronger product. Pultrusion is used in the creation of plastic grates, stair treads and some plastic tubing, usually for use in applications where frequent or heavy impact between tubing and equipment or other moving objects is expected. Pultrusion is still a widely used method, but it is not used to the extent that plastic extrusion is.
Plastic extrusion is the most efficient, effective, and widely used method of plastic tube fabrication. It can produce tubes of any plastic material, width and thickness. The plastic tubing extrusion process begins with a collection of raw plastic material, which is called stock. The stock is loaded into a hopper suspended above a conveyance channel. A long screw in the conveyance channel pushes the stock toward a die at the end of the channel. A die is any tool used to shape raw material into a usable product. In the case of plastic tubing extrusion, the die is a metal plate with a specially designed hole through which the stock passes. Before it reaches the die, the stock is heated to a liquid state by heating elements along the conveyance channel and because of the friction caused by the turning screw. Once molten, the stock is forced through the die, and when it emerges from the die it has become a newly extruded plastic tube. The new product can then be cut to length and prepared for shipping or sent for additional processing.
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Plastic Tubing Types
- Acrylic Tube products are plastic tubes designed with acrylic materials. They are often characterized by their optical clarity.
- is a glassy thermoplastic that
will not age, is not affected by sunlight, stays stable under the variable
conditions of heat, cold, moisture, etc., will not warp, crack, craze
or corrode, is half the weight of comparable glass and has good shatter
resistance and durability.
- is similar to PVC tubing
but handles corrosive water at temperatures above the limits of other
vinyl plastics, has excellent chemical and fire resistance characteristics
and high impact and tensile strength and is crush resistant and nontoxic.
- Clear plastic tubing is a hollow, usually cylindrical body of clear thermoplastic material, used either for conveying or containing liquids or gases or as structural components.
- has good abrasion resistance, exceptional cut-through
characteristics and will not fray at the ends. It is widely utilized
in applications where temperatures reach up to 265˜F/130˜C at which
other kinds of tubing would knot, end or torque.
- fits around an object and provides it with
insulation and protection. Once heated the tubing shrinks and conforms
- returns to its original shape after stretching, remains
flexible in sub-zero temperatures and has immense holding strength.
- is tubing used for medical
purposes such as IV's,
catheters, coating on some surgical tools and more.
- is strong and resists abrasion. This tubing is typically
used for high temperature or high pressure needs.
- Plastic pipe are hollow cylinders that are used to convey fluids or gases or as structural component and is typically measured by the internal diameter (ID).
- are hollow cylinders used to transport fluids or gases and is typically measured by the outer diameter (OD).
- is excellent for harsh environmental applications,
because it has high tensile strength, good chemical resistance, good
optical clarity, high impact strength, good dimensional stability and
rigidity and is self-extinguishing.
- Poly tubing, short for polyethylene tubing, is a very widely used variety of plastic tubing.
- is unaffected by water and many chemicals
because of its tough and waxy texture.
- is clear plastic tubing that has good optical
clarity and strength. This tubing is sensitive to some chemicals and
should not be used in high temperatures or humidity.
- Pultrusions are plastic tubing products that have been integrated with fibers to enhance their strength.
- is corrosion
resistant, flexible and flame retardant, does not shrink in
heat and has excellent electrical and physical performance.
- is a rubber-like
thermoset material that is used in
the medical field for applications such as medical devices, pharmaceutical
processing, laboratory, veterinary, pharmaceutical drug delivery systems
and cardio pacemaking leads, because it meets the industry's
requirements of cleanliness and non-toxicity. It is also resistant
to extreme temperatures, generally exhibits inertness toward U.V. radiation
and ozone and is not altered by effects of weather.
- Square plastic tubing is a square hollow device that is used to convey fluids or gases or as structural components
- is plastic tubing that is used for IVs, catheters, and other medical purposes.
- is a clear, strong, lightweight and flexible tubing
that has thousands of applications in the home, office, factory and
because it is chemically resistant to alkalis, alcohol, aliphate,
hydrocarbons, oils and some acids, retains transparency, stands up
to rough handling
and is odorless, tasteless and nontoxic. It is used to transport
liquids, gases and some solids.
Plastic Tubing Terms
- Small cracks close to the surface of
the plastic tubing.
- The amount of strain that plastic
tubing can handle before
- The process in
which the diameter of a plastic tubes is enlarged while its wall thickness is
reduced. This process is often used to create
heat shrinkable tubing.
- A process in which a solid plastic resin is melted
and pushed by a screw through a heating chamber.
- A small mass in a transparent material, such as plastic
used in plastic tubing,
created by incomplete blending.
- A process in which
mechanical pressure works to increase the diameter of plastic tubes from the inside.
- The outer part of a heat shrinkable tube's dual
- A solution also referred to as rubber that usually consists
of water and polymer.
- The inner part of a heat shrinkable tube's dual wall.
- A process typically carried out by a catalyst
in which a large number of simple molecules combine to form a more complex,
chain-like compound (polymer).
- A flammable, transparent plastic that is an excellent
electrical and thermal insulator because of its high strength and impact
- A general term for a broad class of thermoplastic
polymers that have good resistance to solvents and abrasion and can be
either solid or foam (cellular).
- A process that produces reinforced plastic shapes
with constant cross sections by pulling the reinforcing fibers, wetted
by a thermoset resin mix, through a heated steel die.
- Scale used to measure the hardness of an object.
Although there are different scales (plastic tubing uses the "A" scale),
they are consistent in that the larger the number, the harder the object.
- A process in which
plastic tubing is used as an outer cover
for an object in order to reduce the stress that is being placed on the
object by providing additional support and stiffness.
- Small cracks, typically found in clusters, which
occur in plastic tubing due to mechanical stress.
- A material that remains hardened, even when reheated,
due to its having undergone a chemical reaction.
- A rating given to highly-flame retardant
plastic tubing by the Underwriter's