Pneumatic tubing buyer’s guide

Pneumatic tubing

By Dean Hopkins and Richard Cueto, TPC Automation Sales Managers

Tubing is an integral part of a pneumatic system. It transmits pressurized air between different parts of a pneumatic circuit. The air begins at the air compressor and is conveyed to the actuators, cylinders, valves, and more through the tubing.

So it is important to know what to look for when purchasing tubing for your company and project.  This article outlines some of the basic features and functions to look at when buying tubing: 

Tubing material

There are many types of materials that can be used to make pneumatic tubing. Each has properties that make it more suitable to certain systems. Some of the most common materials are outlined below. 

Polyurethane 

Polyurethane is one of the most common tubing materials used in pneumatic systems. This material is highly flexible, durable, abrasion-resistant, chemical resistant, and cost-effective. It holds up well to pressurized air, chemicals, oils, and fuels. Additionally, the flexibility allows it to bend around equipment easily. 

Nylon 

Nylon is light, abrasion and corrosion resistant, as well as flexible. It also has high flexural resistance, which means that it can withstand consistent flexing, without fracturing. This feature is widely useful for retractable, coils but is suited for a variety of systems.  

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Flexible PVC also offers flexibility and abrasion/chemical resistance. It is also easily customizable in terms of shape, color, and size. This makes it suitable for a variety of systems, including pneumatic and non-pneumatic systems. 

Polyethylene

Polyethylene is semi-rigid, abrasion/chemical resistant, lightweight, flexible, and low cost. It is well suited for a variety of systems, particularly systems where leaking/tears would pose risk (ex. laboratories). 

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is extremely light, chemical resistant, and can be heated to high temperatures. This makes it well-suited for systems that require high-heat for sterilization and outdoor applications. However, it can be used in a variety of systems. 

Other, less common, materials include viton, silicone, thermoplastic rubber, latex, and fluoropolymers. 

Pressure: 

Most pneumatic circuits and machinery that use air operate in the pressure range of 0-150 PSI (pound-force per square inch). It is possible to go above that. So, when buying tubing, it is important to understand how much pressure your system will create and if the material selected is capable of withstanding that pressure. 

Size/Outside Diameter 

When looking at sizing in a pneumatic system, most engineers are concerned with the outside diameter. This helps ensure a proper fitting/seal between the tubing and the part of the system it is connected to. The outside diameter varies based on each system, so it is important to make sure the tubing you select will fit the application. 

Hardness/SHORE Rating 

The rating ranges from 0 to 100. At the highest end of the scale would be very hard, rigid materials (e.g. a piece of wood), which makes it resistant but may lack flexibility. The lower end of the scale would be highly flexible materials that are easy to work with, but may not be as rigid or capable of withstanding pressure. Many pneumatic system tubing falls into the higher range on the SHORE rating, but specific system needs may vary. Therefore, it is important to understand your systems’ needs before purchasing.

Color: 

Tubing comes in a variety of colors. Different colors can allow companies to differentiate between parts within one circuit or between circuits. This helps keep a system organized and separated. 

What we offer at TPC Automation: 

Here at TPC Automation, we offer high-quality polyurethane tubing at a competitive price.

Polyurethane is the ideal material for most pneumatic applications. It is flexible, durable, abrasion/chemical resistant, and lightweight.

TPC Automation’s tubing product has a working pressure range of 0-150 PSI and falls in the range of 85-95 on the SHORE rating scale.

This pressure range accounts for 98% of all pneumatics…and the SHORE rating is ideal for durability and uses in virtually any pneumatic application. It also has self-retracting and self-storing coil tube characteristics with an excellent memory. 

TPC’s tubing product is also customizable to fit any needs. Tubing size/OD ranges from 4mm-12mm (or ⅛ to ½ inch). It comes in lengths of 100 to 200 meters (328 to 656 feet). Additionally, it is available in a variety of colors. The most popular colors include blue, black, and clear; but it can also be ordered in clear blue, yellow, red, orange, and green. 

Tubing Buyer’s Tips

Overall, there are many things to consider when purchasing tubing for pneumatic systems. Here is a checklist of questions to consider:

  • Is the tubing is capable of handling what is being run/pushed through it?
  • What will it be used for (i.e. air, water, chemical, etc.)?
  • Will the material be able to resist the fluid or air pressure that is passing through it?
  • Will the size/diameter produce a strong seal?
  • Will hardness suit the system’s needs?  

Tubing on our online store

See our tubing products on our online store at https://store.tpcautomation.com/products/polyurethane-tubing

Have a tubing question?

Have a question about pneumatic tubing? Call us at 562-946-8459 and ask for TPC Automation’s pneumatics components department. You can also ask a question via our Pneumatic expert form Click the button below…

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