A Guide to Choosing the Right Tubing Material for Your Industrial Application

Within the industrial field, selecting the right tubing material isn’t just a matter of choice but a thorough decision based on necessity and safety. 

Whether you’re creating a high-pressure pneumatic system or designing a state-of-the-art processing plant, the tubing material plays a key part in its function. 

But don’t worry! Pure Transfer is here to guide you through the process. So hold your horses (or hoses) as we walk through the advantages and applications of each material.

Understanding Your Application Needs

Understanding your tubing needs comes down to three main components: environmental conditions, physical requirements, and compliance and standards. 

We’ve broken down each part further:

1. Environmental Conditions

  • Examine the environment’s temperature range. Materials like PTFE are suitable for high temperatures, whereas PVC is more suited for lower temperatures. 
  • For outdoor applications, choose materials resistant to UV light and ozone, such as EPDM.
  • Choose non-metallic materials or highly corrosion-resistant metals for wet or humid conditions.
  • Corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel 316, are necessary for tubing exposed to chemicals. 

2. Physical Requirements

  • High-pressure applications will require metals like stainless steel or reinforced plastic composites. 
  • Investigate whether the tubing will be subject to movement (dynamic) or if it’ll remain in place (static).
  • Choose silicone or rubber for applications which require flexible tubing. 

3. Compliance and Standards

  • The food and beverage industry requires FDA-approved tubing materials, such as plastic and certain grades of stainless steel.
  • In the UK, all materials must comply with BS EN 13480 (Metallic industrial piping) and BS EN ISO 9001 (Quality management systems) standards.

Opt for materials which come with NSF/ANSI 61 certifications for drinking water systems.

The Different Types of Tubing Materials

1. Stainless Steel Tubing

This offers great corrosion resistance, strength, and the ability to withstand high temperatures. Stainless steel is less likely to leach compounds into carrying fluids, ideal for sensitive applications.

  • Applications: Ideal for oil and gas extraction, pharmaceutical manufacturing, food processing and medical devices. 
  • Grades:
    • 304 Stainless Steel is beneficial for mild chemicals and corrosion environments.
    • 316 Stainless Steel offers better corrosion resistance and is preferable in marine environments or environments containing chloride.

2. Copper Tubing

Copper tubing provides excellent thermal conductivity. It is naturally bacteriostatic and highly ductile, making installation easy. Copper’s corrosion resistance provides great durability.

  • Applications: Used for heating systems, air conditioners, and refrigeration units. This is also used in plumbing and medical gas delivery systems due to its resistance to bacterial growth.
  • Types:
    • Type K offers the thickest walls, perfect for high-pressure installations.
    • Type L is thinner and used for indoor plumbing and hot/cold water supply.
    • Type M has the thinnest walls and is used for low to moderate pressure applications.

3. Aluminium Tubing

Aluminium tubing offers excellent conductivity and great corrosion resistance. It’s also easier to bend and shape, ideal for dynamic installation, and it’s cost-effective.

  • Applications: Automotive and aerospace industries, hydraulic systems, and framing construction.
  • Advantages: This is ideal for environments where weight is a critical factor without compromising on strength.

4. Plastic and Composite Tubing

Plastic and composite tubing offers a wide range of benefits, from chemical resistance to longeivity. There are various options to choose from including:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride):
    • PVC tubing is versatile, chemical resistant, flexible and a great electrical insulator.
    • Applications: Ideal for residential plumbing, medical tubing, and protective sheaths for electrical cables.
  • PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene):
    • PTFE provides exceptional chemical resistance with a low friction coefficient, enabling it to handle a wide temperature range.
    • Applications: Used for high-purity or corrosive environments, such as laboratories and industrial chemical processing.
  • Nylon:
    • Nylon is strong, abrasion-resistant, and resistant to many chemicals. It has a higher pressure rating than many other types of plastic tubing.
    • Applications: Used for fuel lines, chemical transfer lines, and pneumatic systems.

5. Rubber Tubing

Rubber is highly flexible and resilient. This offers resistance to chemicals, heat, and various weather conditions.

  • Applications: Used for automotive fuel lines, cooling systems, and air and water hoses.
  • Types:
    • Silicone Rubber offers good flexibility for a wide variety of temperatures and is used in medical and food applications due to its biocompatibility.
    • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is excellently resistant to ozone, UV exposure, and harsh chemicals in outdoor environments.

Invest in Quality with Pure Transfer

At Pure Transfer, we know our stuff, and we aim to help you know your stuff too with our informative blogs. 

We hope that this blog has equipped you to make an informed decision on the type of tubing material for your industrial application. 

With a wide variety of silicone hoses to choose from, browse our selection today to find the best fit for your job.