Ask Atlas Copco is a segment that discusses commonly asked questions about various compressor, vacuum, and blower technologies, processes and best practices. Today’s answer comes from Brian Blum, CTS optimization product manager.
Aluminum piping systems offer many advantages to operators. Corrosion resistant, lightweight, easy to install, and low cost, these systems are a great choice for compressed air distribution.
But not all aluminum systems are equal. Different manufacturers use different materials to connect the pipe segments, and operators often wonder if this can affect the performance. The simple answer is, yes.
Let’s look at two commonly used connection materials for aluminum systems and how they stand up in compressed air applications.
Polyamide 6, more commonly known as nylon, is frequently used as an aluminum pipe connector. It’s high strength, high toughness, and medium insulation hold up well in a compressed air application. The same material is also frequently used in packaging and fiber technologies.
On the other hand, polyamide fiberglass is made up of 70 percent polyamide 6 and 30 percent glass fiber. The addition of fiberglass strengthens the polyamide, giving it very high strength, toughness, and insulation. Polyamide fiberglass is more durable than polyamide and is frequently used for automotive, mechanical, and electrical engineering purposes.
Tensile, compression and impact strength
So, now we know that polyamide fiberglass is a better material than polyamide. It’s tougher and more insulated, and has higher tensile, compression and impact strength. Before we compare the strengths of each material, let’s examine what tensile, compression and impact strength means.
Tensile strength: Do you see the cognate? If you thought that ‘tensile’ sounded like ‘tension,’ then you’re on to something! Tensile strength is the force required to pull a material until it breaks. Typically, tensile strength is calculated for brittle objects (like those made from wood or metal) and is measured as force per unit area (usually megapascals, or MPa). To give you some context, concrete has an ultimate tensile strength of 3 MPa, and a human bone has an ultimate tensile strength of 130 MPa.
Compression strength: Compression strength is the opposite of tensile strength. Rather than pulling an object apart, compression strength is the force required to push an object together until it breaks or ruptures. Compression strength is also measured in MPa.
Impact strength: Have you ever seen a martial artist break a board? Then you’ve witnessed a piece of wood received a blow stronger than its impact strength. Impact strength is the maximum shock and energy a material can absorb before it ruptures. Impact strength is measured in kilojoules per square meter (KJ/m3).
Below is a chart comparing the strength of polyamide 6 and polyamide fiberglass.
Choose polyamide fiberglass for aluminum piping connections
Polyamide fiberglass connections are a clear choice for aluminum piping connections. With significantly higher tensile, compression and impact strength, polyamide fiberglass connections can better guard your piping system against any mishaps or leaks.
Don’t be fooled by appearance. Many polyamide connectors may look nearly identical to their polyamide fiberglass counterparts, but that beauty is only skin deep.
If you’re looking to replace or repair your aluminum piping system, be sure the connectors are made of top quality material that will withstand industrial environments.