What is a PVC Pipe?
PVC pipes are made out of a material known as polyvinyl chloride, a durable, strong plastic-like substance. Pipes are constructed from this material and used in various applications from plumbing to construction. The pipe is designed to be universal. All pipes are designed around specific requirements to ensure that multiple pipe sections will fit together. The ends of the pipe can either be smooth or grooved (similar to a screw). Additionally, there are several different pipe sizes ranging from very small (one-fourth inch) to very large (10 feet). Currently, PVC piping counts for the majority of plumbing in the U.S. and is the preferred standard for new construction.
How is it Made?
PVC pipes are created by starting with a molten mixture of the material and shaping them around a cast. The casts are made to be the exact width of the pipe. The mixture is poured into a cast and surrounded by an outer shell. The complete set is then placed into an oven to be cooked. Once the pipe has solidified, it is cooled and moved into finishing. Sections of the pipe are then cut based on common sizes and needs. The sections are then coated in a chlorine solution to prevent harmful bacteria from growing during shipping and use. Once the coating is dried, the ends of each section are finished. If the pipe is a smooth connection, the top of the pipe is sanded down to ensure a perfectly flat surface. For fitted pipes, a machine engraves a series of grooves into the pipe. As the grooves are cut, high-pressured water is sprayed on the pipe to remove excess PVC fragments. After the grooves are added, the ends are smooth and the sections are sent into testing.
Because PVC pipes are used in many housing and commercial construction applications, it is important that each pipe is tested to ensure quality. To do so, the pipes are tested for their seal, connection (on grooved sections), and strength. The seal tests are conducted by adding a special cement to the pipe and allowing it to dry. Once this is complete, a series of liquids are passed through the pipe at high pressure. If no leaks occur, the cement is removed and the section is cleaned. For fitted pipes, a similar process takes place without the cement. The final test of the pipes is to ensure their strength. This is completed by using several presses that push weight down on the pipe. If the section does not break or show stress points, it is sent for packaging and shipping. If a section fails at any point in the process, it is sent back to be melted down and re-constructed.