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Compressor air line material

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#50813

Compressor air line material | 23 June, 2007

We have always used black iron pipe for compressor air line. This pipe is very expensive to purchase and install. What is a better alternative?

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#50814

Compressor air line material | 23 June, 2007

Every plant I've worked at used copper.

I don't know your criteria for better, but I would think soldering and hanging copper would be a lot easier/quicker than threading and hanging iron. I haven't priced either one, though.

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#50815

Compressor air line material | 23 June, 2007

Hi,

Yes, we just built a new plant, and used copper again. The stuff we cut out of the old building was copper, and it was fine without any issues.

We lay it on an angle so condensation flows to an end, and can be periodically vented, and we take all air taps off the top of the pipe so condensation cannot drop down into the machines. This all works well. In copper you can easily bend the smaller lines to make nice taps off the top of the larger main air line, and it's easily for plumbers to solder.

Copper tarnishes easily, so we painted our air lines light blue. It looks nice and high tek!

Grant

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FD

#50817

Compressor air line material | 24 June, 2007

I never thought about painting our copper piping.

I always thought the patina that covers the pipes adds a bit of history and class, ya know an antique-feel, to the shop.

I was in a shop years ago that used PVC piping for their air. From looking at Home Depot for home garden projects, the pricing would be similar to copper, but a lot easier to install yourself.

I remember this shop was even inspected by the city (or someone) and was told to change it to copper, so it wouldn't explode and hurt anyone. The owner said that the pipe was rated to 400-psi, and they are only running 150-psi. The inspector looked at the markings on the pipe and said "That is 400-psi for water, not PSI for air..." Then he thought about it and said "PSI is PSI, for air or water, so I guess it is OK. But you have been warned about the risk."

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#50818

Compressor air line material | 24 June, 2007

Check your local building code first. A lot of people 'say' they use various types of pipes.

If you're looking for a complete system, try Patton Sonic.

They're piping section is at; http://pattonsinc.com/piping.htm

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#50824

Compressor air line material | 25 June, 2007

Copper is best! I've seen troubles with black pipe - the pipe is not always clean on the inside and debris or mill scale makes it into your equip. eventually. We've also used PVC to get by/quick fix and we always ended up blowing a fitting or even a pipe from time to time. Closed loop design to reduce pressure differentials and drops for water collection are important to remember.

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#50825

Compressor air line material | 25 June, 2007

Plastic of any kind for compressed air is a code violation here. It's not just the pressure, it's the durability. PVC is pretty brittle and if you smack it with a pallet jack it's a lot more likely to shatter and generate high speed shrapnel than copper.

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#50827

Compressor air line material | 25 June, 2007

On our new shop we used iron pipe in the walls and attic and copper ever where else that can be easily accessed. I saw a pvc material at a trade show years ago that was rated for air lines. With their demo material they could fold it and drive nails through it without shattering the material. I have not seen it since. On condesation control, the most cost effective thing I have done was add a cooler between the compressor and tank. The cooler brings the air to ambient temp. and a filter catches probably 95% of the water before it reaches the tank.

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#50830

Compressor air line material | 25 June, 2007

I have to disagree with you SWAG. Unless you thread it, it doesn't meet fire code. If you got connections that operators plug into, copper bends easy compared to other pipe. PVC is only allowed for compressed air if it is used underground (at least here in Oregon).

Dave, Hussman is right, check your local building codes. Usually covered in the "boiler vessel" section.

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#50844

Compressor air line material | 26 June, 2007

I've used PVC, black iron and copper: Forget PVC, too dangerous as joint strength completely reliant on glue, black iron will rust and accumulate debris over time, copper is the best but now because of very high Cu commodity prices could very well be more than black iron --but once in it is completely maintenance free

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#50845

Compressor air line material | 26 June, 2007

Hi,

It's much better to add the cooler after the tank, as the tank will condense a lot of the water before it even hits the cooler and goes out. It's a much better system to have the tank between the compressor and then the cooler.

The air also gets a chance to cool down after being compressed, so you get a much more effective system. We had a compressor once that had it the other way around until a new engineer told us we were doing it wrong, and wow, did it make a difference when we changed it.

But you gotta vent the tank every week. Lots of water comes out. Of course, last week the vent hose blocked, and when trying to clear it, I got covered with rusty mud, and everyone thought that was a great joke! Did look funny though.

Grant

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#50848

Compressor air line material | 26 June, 2007

We had a cooler fail once, before we had any SMT. Auto-insert was at the far end of the building, at the end of the compressed air line.

When the Unimod (dip inserter) sprayed the operator with water when the pneumatic table rotation motor fired up, we knew something was up. Turns out the facilities guys knew about the failure, *thought* they had it fixed, and failed to tell us to watch for water. It hit all three machines at the same time. Hilarity, of course, ensued. :P

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FD

#50852

Compressor air line material | 26 June, 2007

I certainly wasn't endorsing the use of the PVC piping that was installed prior to my employment there. Also, I recall that all the piping was above the ceiling tiles and regular air line hose was dropped along with the power cables. So there was little risk of it being hit by anything.

I certainly see your point about it being a ticking bomb waiting to throw shards of plastic everywhere.

I would assume it was a code violation where this shop was, and that is why the inspector said something. Maybe he was new and was hoodwinked by the "400PSI" arguement. I was shocked that we weren't hit with this violation.

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#50853

Compressor air line material | 26 June, 2007

i difagee wif both of you

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#50878

Compressor air line material | 27 June, 2007

Dave Try Transair Legris, They have a pretty slick system which will compare in cost to your black pipe but offers many advantages and it is clean.

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