Martyn Rowlands (below), head of marketing for Durapipe UK, discusses the developments of plastic valve technology
THE valve industry has come a long way since our sister company, FIP, produced the first plastic valve in 1954. At that time, the company used injection-moulded technology to produce products for use within diving equipment but quickly began to produce thermoplastic valves, fittings and flow instrumentation for pressure application pipelines.
From the initial PVC-U ball valve - the only option available 30 years ago - plastic pipework manufacturers such as Durapipe UK have developed new products and services, driving the industry forward and creating a wide range of options to choose from.
Following on from the ball valve, butterfly and diaphragm valves have been introduced to offer further flexibility and allow contractors to install more effective systems. Butterfly valves are a cost-effective solution when working with larger pipework sizes. And diaphragm valves are ideal when dealing with abrasive materials which can erode standard ball valves over time.
The choice of material has also extended beyond PVC-U, ensuring there are products available that can safely transport any contents. It is essential that valves keep up with innovations in pipework material to ensure manufacturers are able to offer fully matched systems.
Given the wide range of materials and various types of valve to choose from, it is important to select the right product. The most frequent query that the Durapipe UK technical department receives in relation to valves is people asking which material they should use.
Valves have also developed greatly during the years, enhancing performance capabilities. This year saw the launch of Durapipe's innovative VKD ball valve.
Produced in partnership with sister company FIP, the VKD valve boasts a patented Dual Block control offering anti-vibration properties.
This prevents leaks that can be caused when the nuts within the valve become loosened and unlocked, making it ideal for
applications involving chemical or hazardous materials.
Hand in hand with the development of valve technology has been the development of supplementary products such as flow control
The benefits of plastic systems have already been realised by many within the heating and ventilation industry. Installing plastic pipework systems, including pipework, fittings and valves, has been proven to offer significant installation cost savings. This is largely because of the fact that plastic materials are significantly lighter than metal systems and are easier to transport. Plastic products can also be solvent welded, saving time and cost during installation.
These benefits have been realised by several companies. Eyres Mechanical recently installed Friatherm, Durapipe SuperFlo and Friaphon pipework systems at the Holiday Inn Norwich. Commenting on the installation, David Palmer from Eyres said: 'The Friatherm system offered us many benefits. With the increases in the price of copper, Friatherm was a more cost-effective solution for us than metal initiatives. Aside from cost benefits, Friatherm's excellent performance capabilities were a major influence, as we won't need to worry about pin holing, which can occur with copper pipework.'
Companies like Eyers have benefited from the developments within plastic valve technology over the last decade. Innovation is what drives a market. And, as budgets become tighter and deadlines get shorter, this will become even more important. It is the responsibility of manufacturers to develop products and services that provide effective solutions to specifiers, contractors and end clients.
The valve industry has evolved significantly in response to the
market's changing needs. It must continue to do so to ensure it can satisfy the needs of the customer.