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Using ABS Pipe For Compressed Air

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There are several options when it comes to plastic compressed air piping, with ABS being one of the most common choices. This article will provide you with all the relevant information about ABS.

Table of Contents

ABS Background

ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a very common thermoplastic polymer typically used for injection molding applications. It is a very popular engineering plastic due to its low production cost and the ease with which the material is machined by plastic manufacturers.

Using Abs Pipe For Compressed Air

ABS Pipe for Compressed Air

ABS pipe is being used for compressed air, a major source of industrial energy, increasingly more and more in both the manufacturing and processing industries. ABS has distinct advantages of cleanliness, flexibility, safety, and economy of use which are fully exploited.

A well-designed plastic system with the right cement can offer similar performance to metal pipes if treated with great attention. Plastic compressed air piping is cheap, lightweight, easy to install, and boasts great corrosion resistance.

However, not all plastics are the same. If you are using a form of plastic piping, it is important to make sure it is durable enough to stand up to years of use and will not be damaged by contact with oils and lubricants from your compressed air system. Which is exactly what ABS pipe is capable of.

Most importantly, you must ensure that the plastic piping you choose is OSHA-approved for use in compressed air systems, as some materials like PVC and CPVC are banned for piping in compressed air systems.

ABS Pipe for Compressed Air Benefits

ABS is a very lightweight material which makes it very easy to work with, requiring no special bracing or supports. These types of plastics can be easily cut and fit together using standard tools, allowing them to be glued together rather than welded like most metals.

The interior surface of the ABS pipe is smooth which allows for maximum laminar flow. ABS pipe has its natural benefits of affordability and machinability which do not hinder the materials’ desired properties that include:

  • Temperature resistance – excellent high and low-temperature performance
  • Electrical insulation properties
  • Chemical resistance – additional chemical resistance to chemicals like solvents
  • Structural strength and stiffness
  • Impact resistance
  • Corrosion resistance – minimizing the risk of particulates in the airflow

ABS Pipe for Compressed Air Specifications

The values of the maximum operation pressure are at a temperature of 73°F. You must ensure that you refer to the burst pressure characteristics curve whenever you have to deal with greater or lower temperatures than this.

For some more concrete numbers, here’s an example of temperature range and maximum operating pressure you can expect to find in an ABS pipe:

Temperature range: -40°F to 180°F
Maximum operating pressure: 185 PSI (at 73°F)

Note: The specifications provided above are simply an example, you will be able to find ABS piping with greater temperature ranges and maximum operating pressures.

The tubes are readily available in sizes from 1/4″ all the way up to as big as 4″. You should have no problems finding the right size for you along with the correct fittings. Some companies will offer features that simplify installation for you, such as special metal-to-ABS adapter fittings, single and multi-port wall brackets and color coding for easy identification.

ABS can also be used to create your own DIY air tank like this YouTuber has demonstrated below!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can ABS pipe be used for compressed air?

Yes, ABS is appropriate to use in compressed air piping systems and holds some benefits over metal. It is lightweight and easy to work with, has a smooth interior surface for optimum flow and does not corrode!

How much air pressure can ABS pipe hold?

ABS pipe is rigid, holds high impact strength and great durability which will allow the pipe to take up to around 220 PSI depending on the specific brand of pipe itself.

Additional Reading:

If you have any questions regarding using ABS pipe for compressed air, then please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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