HDPE pipe compounds are one of the success stories of today’s construction industry. If you were able to walk around a construction site seventy years ago, you might see many types of pipe made from copper, cement, steel, PVC, aluminum, and rubber.
Different materials were used for pipes serving different uses. The building codes of the time usually specified what type of pipe was to be used for which application. This drove the cost of materials up and made the supply more difficult. The copper pipe required in a specific diameter might not be available when you needed it, and this would cause delays in other construction tasks that were waiting for piping to be installed before they could finish a wall or floor.
The materials and weights of all these pipe materials took a financial toll as well. Cement pipe was heavy to transport, and although cement pipe was cheap to manufacture, the transport cost made the cost of the product not worth the money. Copper was fairly lightweight and easy to transport, but it was also valuable. Copper pipe was a favorite target of construction site thieves, and the pipe had to be kept locked up and secure. This costs money on top of the already high price of the material.
The overriding problem is that no single material suited multiple applications at the time. This was why building codes went into such detail. It drove up the cost of the construction project as well as the completion time of each project.
HDPE Pipe Reduces Costs
HDPE pipe compounds were first developed in the 1950s for baby bottles to replace the glass that was used before. High-density Polyethylene was what the letters of this new product stood for. The developers soon looked for other applications as they saw how successful it was at withstanding the heat of sterilization and the bumps, drops, and abuse of everyday use.
They immediately thought of applications for the construction industry, particularly multiple applications. They had on their hands a material that would hold up under a variety of extreme temperatures. It was durable, lightweight, and flexible. The light weight of the material and its flexibility appealed to contractors and construction managers struggling to simplify construction methods, thereby reducing costs.
The durability of the material appealed to architects, city planners, and construction inspectors. They saw HDPE pipe compounds taking the place of several different materials around the job site.
Development of HDPE
No matter how much the people involved with the construction industry wanted to adopt HDPE as the material of choice to replace the other materials of the time, they were cautious of doing it safely. HDPE was adopted over time. The costliest, heaviest, and most difficult-to-work-with materials were replaced first after a lengthy trial period. Today, engineers and designers are still finding new uses for HDPE pipe compounds. In Thailand, PTT Global is working with the construction industry to ensure that costs come down and budgets are stretched further with this miracle material.