Pipe Material

Aluminum pipe for compressed air is exceptionally versatile and can be easily integrated into existing systems made from other pipe materials. It can also be modified to accommodate changing needs. Smooth, calibrated aluminum provides the best possible flow, and will not rust or corrode over time. Fast to install and easy to modify, aluminum pipe is a versatile compressed air distribution system. The light weight material reduces installed cost by about half when compared to steel or copper, especially in overhead installation.

Black iron and copper are traditional materials for compressed air installations and installers are familiar with them and their joining methods. Black iron itself is inexpensive, but installation is time consuming and labor intensive with threaded or welded joints. The threaded joints often serve as a source of leakage, which leads to higher operating costs. Black iron also rusts with the corrosion affecting the quality of the compressed air. Interior pitting and scaling increases pressure drops throughout the system. In extreme cases, pieces of scale can dislodge and clog or damage end-of-line equipment.

Copper does not corrode and joints are less prone to leakage, but copper components are more expensive and installation is more labor intensive than aluminum systems, especially in larger diameter systems.

Aluminum piping features push-to-connect, leak-free joint technology as well as quick disconnect capability. Aluminum is resistant to corrosion, ultraviolet, mechanical shocks, thermal variations, and various oils found in compressed air systems.

PVC is another relatively inexpensive, easy to install, lightweight and corrosion resistant material. It is also brittle, making it prone to shatter from impact unless encased in shatter-proof encasement. Aluminum requires no such protection.

Material Advantages Disadvantages Connection Methods
Black Pipe Low cost components
Readily available
Rated to high pressure
Established (old) technology
Labor intensive
Corrosion problems
Prone to leaks
Costly to repair
Not easily modified
Safety concerns
Threaded
Welded
Grooved
Crimped
Galvanized Steel Low cost components
Readily available
Rated to high pressure
Established (old) technology
Threaded
Welded
Grooved
Crimped
Threaded
Welded
Grooved
Crimped
Copper Low cost components
Readily available
Resistant to corrosion
Established (old) technology
Labor intensive
Prone to leaks
Costly to repair
Not easily modified
Safety concerns
Soldered
Quick connect
Crimped
Plastic Low cost components
Readily available
Resistant to corrosion
Lightweight
Labor intensive
Prone to leaks
Costly to repair(labor)
Incompatibility issues
Safety concerns
Glued
Fused
Quick Connect
Extruded aluminum Corrosion resistant/low pressure drop
Lightweight/Dimensional integrity
Resistant to mechanical shocks
Easy to install and modify
Material cost
Thermal expansion/contraction
Lower pressure rating
Welded
Grooved
Quick Connect
Stainless Steel Corrosion resistant/low pressure drop
Chemical compatibility
Rated to high pressure
Labor intensive
Material costs
Costly to repair (labor)
Safety concerns
Threaded
Welded
Grooved
Crimped
Quick Connect