Understanding Aluminum Pipe
Whether you’re developing a product or replacing existing pipes, aluminum is a great option. Sometimes overlooked in favor of heavier metal materials, aluminum really makes an impact, despite its lightweight. It’s sturdy, strong, and likely a great solution for your product.
Why Choose Aluminum Pipes
Aluminum has some unique properties that make it a versatile, multifaceted material. Aluminum is incredibly light, and offers a greater volume of piping per weight than steel. Aluminum also does not tarnish, and it can be painted more easily than other metal materials. It conducts heat incredibly well, and it is highly durable. It is easy to install. Aluminum is economic, environmentally friendly, and resistant to corrosion. For these reasons, aluminum is a favorite of nearly every metal supplier, producer, and consumer.
When directly compared to other piping materials, aluminum consistently outperforms them. It has far lower installation costs than materials like galvanized steel and copper pipes. Aluminum corrodes less than galvanized steel and does not require soldering like copper does. Aluminum also leads to less leaks than both of these materials. Other options, like PVC and stainless steel, are less durable, reliable, and are more expensive to install than aluminum. Not only will using aluminum result in a better, safer product, it will save you money as well.
Grades and Schedules of Aluminum Pipe
It's important to choose the right grade of aluminum pipe for your product. There are two options: 6061 or 6063 grade. To choose the right one, evaluate what characteristics are most important for your product. 6061 grade aluminum is the stronger option. 6063 grade aluminum is more aesthetically pleasing, due to a finer grain structure, and it anodizes well when a colored finish is added.
You will also need to choose a schedule of pipes. Schedule refers to the thickness of the pipe walls. As the schedule number increases, the thickness increases. For example, aluminum pipe schedule 40 is thinner than aluminum pipe schedule 80. Schedule numbers range from 5 to 160. The thickness of a pipe impacts a pipe’s weight and strength.
Pipes vs. Tubes
The terms pipe and tube are sometimes used interchangeably, but it's important to understand the difference when you’re choosing an aluminum pipe or tube for a product. Both are hollow cylinders, but there are some key differences. A pipe is measured by its inside diameter, while a tube is measured by its outside diameter. While pipes are typically used for transporting liquid or for exchanging heat, tubes are typically used for structural and architectural purposes. Tubes do not need to be round, but pipes always are round. The choice should be clear depending on the nature of your product.
Great Uses for Aluminum
The unique properties of aluminum means that the material can be used for a wide variety of industries. Thanks to its lightweight nature, aluminum is ideal for products that must be mobile, like wheelchairs and outdoor furniture. Thanks to its heat conducting capabilities, aluminum is also great for products that must conduct heat. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, solar panels, fridges, air conditioning systems, and engines. Aluminum can be used for fuel lines, hydraulic systems, and fuselages. Aluminum may also be found in chain-link fences, the lining of tables, and desktop monitors.
No matter what industry you’re in or what type of product you’re developing, aluminum is likely to have a great solution. Replacing existing pipes with aluminum pipes may lead to less replacements in the future due to corrosion, make leaks less likely, and make the product more secure. Choose the more durable, reliable, economic option and go with aluminum.