HDPE Fittings – A Complete Guide
Frequently used in the mining industry, in irrigation, for plant engineering and municipal drinking water installations, HDPE fittings have been found to be highly reliable when it comes to high pressure and in fact all transportation of water, and gas, within pipelines. Discover everything buyers need to know about the different types of fittings, their benefits over other fitting types, what to be wary of when dealing with suppliers and more.
Read along or jump to a section that interests you most:
1. HDPE Fittings: A Definition
2. Electro-Fusion Process
3. Types of HDPE Fittings
4. Creating Trust in HDPE Fittings
5. A Timeline of HDPE Fittings
6. In The Factory
7. Can HDPE Fittings Be Recycled?
8. Range of Sizes
9. Industrial Uses and Safety
10. Benefits Over Other Fitting Types
11. Selecting Suppliers
HDPE Fittings: A Definition
HDPE fittings are widgets that reinforce both water and gas pipelines.
While sizes can vary quite a bit, any fittings with a threaded portion greater than 32mm should ideally be reinforced externally. Placing a stainless steel ring around such a fitting, for example, will allow for maximum durability.
A good-quality fitting will allow for reliable, high-performance joining and a long lifespan.
Remember: the most important step before installation is cleaning and degreasing the fitting. This is ideally performed with a special cleaning solution for PE welding, as any other fluid may cause damage to the joint.
To apply the solution, use clean lint-free wipes or wipes made of fabric or paper. It is absolutely necessary to clean all the welding surfaces. Once these surfaces have been cleaned, you should not touch them with your hands.
Since a clean, dry surface is fundamental to good welding practice, go with a manufacturer that provides fittings in sealable plastic bags. Remove the fitting from its original packaging only when you are ready to de-grease it and install it on the prepared pie.
While it is possible to manually join up two sections of piping, the automated process is most economical due to its low potential for operator error.
Types of HDPE fittings
When perusing supplier websites, readers may come across as many as 14 or more different HDPE fitting variations, excluding custom designs.
See the bulleted list below for examples of types, images and preferred applications:
• long neck applications: structure, gas, hydraulic
• flange applications: mining and process applications, fire systems, rural and metro water supplies
• bend molded applications: structure, plumbing, chemical handling, gas, drinking water
• fabricated 45 degree applications: structure, gas, hydraulic
• spigot and molded tee applications: structure, gas, hydraulic
• reducer applications: engineering, industrial, construction
• cross fitting applications: structure, gas, hydraulic
• end cap applications: pharmaceutical, oil refineries, petrochemical industries
• butt fusion applications: structure, gas, hydraulic
• wafer butterfly valve applications: liquid, gas
Creating Trust in HDPE Fittings
Did you know that international authorities require that HDPE fittings are clearly marked, on their outer surfaces, with their manufacturing details?
These may include: the manufacturer’s name or trademark; a code for the compound used; a diameter and pressure rating; and a date or code of manufacture.
Did you know that to limit potential product defects, you should strive to make your requirements 100 percent clear to your supplier?
Otherwise, you may find yourself becoming one of numerous importers who have lost money due to customer returns and/or unsellable products. But, how do you go about ensuring that your supplier fully understands your expectations for a product?
An excellent way to proceed is to set up a quality control (QC) checklist which shows: important product qualities such as dimensions, volume, weight, material, color and labeling; packaging requirements designed to minimise damage to your goods during shipment; on-site product tests and checks; and a vendor agreement.
We can attest to the fact that putting in place clear and well-defined requirements for your products, before they are actually manufactured and shipped, is key to preventing quality defects.
For safety and performance reasons, the above information allows the manufacturer to be traced through a Quality Assurance (QA) system, which means that any further details – such as grade or raw material used, batch test results or process conditions – can be sourced, if necessary.
In this way, all installations can be traced back to the resin batch from which they were produced, including all related history. Interestingly, the most up-to-date traceability systems are based on the use of barcodes, which record data as diverse as:
• equipment information;
• site logistics;
• data on fittings;
• fusion-jointing parameters;
• installation dates; and
• assembly procedures.
The above information, contained in the barcodes, is ideally linked to a Geographical Information System (GIS).
At any subsequent excavation or operation, the barcode can be read and all data accessed on the pipes and fittings concerned.
Similarly, in planning operations and works, the data is readily accessible from the GIS or database.
One such system, Traccoding, uses ‘ISO’ and a series of five numbers in its unique barcoding.
Note: It is up to the user to create the link between the various data elements.
Care is necessary when determining which data are to be downloaded and the minimum information to be stored in the database for later retrieval. Of importance is the fact that all fittings are fabricated to SANS ISO 4427, ISO 4437 and related standards, in compliance with the relevant authorities.
A Timeline of HDPE Fittings
In The Factory
Fabricated HDPE fittings can solve a great many on-site pipeline-installation issues that builders and engineers face.
Typically, fittings such as bends, tees, laterals, reducing tees and laterals, and manifolds are made out of HDPE pipe.
While fittings can be manufactured in either plain ended, flanged, Tak stub ends or Victaulic ends, they can also be made with a combination of the different ends.
The permissible working pressure of a fitting is 60% of the rated pressure of the pipe used to manufacture it.
So, for example, a 10 bar pipe will produce a 6 bar fitting.
While fittings generally feature an expected range of benefits (see “Benefits of HDPE fittings” below), they can also be manufactured to customer requirements.
Can HDPE Fittings Be Recycled?
Yes, they can, although the quality of the end product very much depends on the condition of the recycled fitting.
Of benefit is the fact that there is generally minimal material degradation during the fittings manufacturing process, meaning any fittings that don’t make the cut in terms of shape or structure can be recycled back into future fitting types that will, indeed, conform to the required parameters; and even into other plastics products that are less mechanically demanding.
Recycling continues to keep the volume of material waste in fittings manufacturing at an all-time low.
Range of Sizes
As you’ll have realised in the section above, fittings can also be produced in a range of different sizes according to client specifications.
It all depends on the size of the pipeline to which they must be affixed – from around 20mm to approximately 650mm in outer diameter.
While the outer diameter of the pipe must, of course, be worked out and specified, ideally using a pipe size hydraulic design tool (see “Benefits of HDPE fittings” below), so too must the required inner thickness of any fitting be specified.
Alternatively, you could opt to contact a hydraulic consultant with any queries.
Industrial Uses and Safety
HDPE fittings are currently used in industries that range from fertilizer, paper and pulp manufacturing, to power and petrochemical plants, dredge and water operators and those that need to transport liquefied natural gas.
Because the substances transported within the piping can be hazardous if leakage occurs, the Plastics Pipe Institute has recently updated its Material Handling Guide for HDPE Pipe & Fittings 2018, available for download here.
According to the PPI, the purpose of this guide is to “provide important safety information on handling, lifting, storing and installing polyethylene pipe and fittings.
By adhering to these and other safety guidelines, it is the sincere hope of the PPI and its members that the number of serious accidents and injuries [related to HDPE pipeline and fittings] can be kept to a minimum.”
Benefits Over Other Fitting Types
In what ways are fittings made from HDPE superior to those made from other materials?
Well, they allow for:
• ease of handling, due to being as much as 1/8th of the density of metals like steel;
• are flexible, allowing for installation over uneven terrain;
• can be heat-welded using techniques like butt fusion and electro fusion, which provides joints that may even be stronger than the piping itself;
• are leak and rust proof;
• are corrosion and chemical resistant;
• have a high impact strength;
• are non-stick, resulting in excellent hydraulic characteristics and impressive durability;
• are UV resistant; and
• are unaffected by organic substances, such as bacteria and fungi.
Another commonly cited benefit is that HDPE fittings are easily installed, meaning team managers can train their staff rapidly and accurately. What a pleasure!
So, what do you need to know when ordering HDPE fittings?
We believe that the vendor you choose to work with should be efficiently connected to the international infrastructure industry.
This is because the greater an understanding they have of the market, the better the products they are able to offer.
Concerned about building a good relationship with your supplier?
You can do this by paying when you said you would; communicating regularly and honestly, via both voice/skype call and email; and by managing expectations related to both quality and timing.
Enquire as to whether your vendor is associated with others industry agents who take an interest in research, development and the production of their fittings; and whether they are capable of supplying bulk orders of prime quality goods.
Finally, a reputable vendor will be happy to show you their service record, including how they’ve approached past challenges; and will offer you competitive pricing that reveals they’ve done their research among industry competitors.
Have any questions or thoughts regarding HDPE fittings? Which industry are you currently using HDPE fittings in? Get the conversation started by leaving us a comment below!