Welding as an easy, safe and inexpensive way to connect pipes

Multitubo: Welding connection for PE-RT/Al/PE-RT multi-layer pipes
Multitubo: Welding connection for PE-RT/Al/PE-RT multi-layer pipes

At ISH 2011 in March, new weld fitting developments for PE-RT pipes from Multitubo (Germany), Neupex (Spain) and Kingbull (PR China) have been on display.

Welding has always been a safe, easy and inexpensive way to connect pipes. However, for indoor plumbing applications welding has only been possible for PP-R pipes until recently. Therefore it is no surprise that PP-R pipes are prevalent for indoor plumbing especially in Eastern and Southern Europe and in the Middle East (Dubai for example), Asia and South America.

Neupex: Fusioper PE-RT pipe and fitting system
Neupex: Fusioper PE-RT pipe and fitting system

In Germany and Western Europe on the other hand pressing is the predominant pipe joining technique. The market share of PP-R pipes in Western Europe reached a mere 2.1% in 2010 (Source: KWD Market + Chart Report “Heating & Plumbing Europe 2010”). Throughout Western European countries PE-RT and multi-layer pipes are significantly more often used for indoor plumbing applications: PE-RT pipes come in at 7% market share with further growth potential, multi-layer pipes range at 27% of the total market.

The idea to use welding as means of joining two pipes has thus been revived by three companies which presented their solutions at this year’s ISH: pipes and fittings manufacturer Neupex (Polytherm) of Spain offers a welding connection for PE-RT pipes and DW-Verbundrohr/Multitubo provides these welding joints even for PE-RT multi-layer pipes.

However, there is a slight difference between the two fittings: As opposed to the Multitubo product the Neupex fitting is welded only on the outside of the pipe. Thereby a reduction of the pipe inner diameter is avoided but the cut surface of the pipe is unprotected. The Multitubo weld fitting is designed for welding on the outer and inner pipe surface. Thus, this fitting can also be used for PE-RT multi-layer pipes because the aluminum layer of the pipe is always protected between two PE-RT layers. There had been huge interest for these fittings during the exhibition. Large crowds of visitors watched the live presentations at the DW-Verbundrohr booth. The fitting is said to be available in fall 2011.

The Chinese company Kingbull presented a PE weld fitting for its PE/Al/PE multi-layer pipe at ISH that is also welded on the inside and outside of the pipe. It is available for radiator connecting pipe with dimensions of 16, 20, 25 and 32 mm. In order to keep the reduction of the pipe diameter as low as possible Kingbull’s PE fitting is made of a very thin PE layer. A metal sleeve in the inner ring ensures stability.