Plastic vs. metal, specifically copper, continues to be a growing debate in the industrial pipe and fittings market for 2007. The past few years have witnessed dramatic price increases, and a short supply in 2006 caused even the copper loyalist to find a plastic alternative. The plastic piping used by residential contractors, who have switched from copper, have definitely slowed demand for those copper-specific products, according to ASA’s recent IPD commodity report.

For companies such as Corzan Industrial Pipe Systems, plastic does make sense. “For years, the industrial market has looked at metals as the only alternative for industrial systems. If they would open their minds to evaluating other possible materials, they might discover that CPVC or other plastics would perform better and be more cost effective,” says Donald R. Townley, P.E., marketing manager of the company.

With the skyrocketing cost of metal, volatile may be the best way to describe how the market expects copper pricing to fare over the next 12 months. “Plastic alternatives have gained market share. This conversion will continue so long as copper remains unstable and at elevated pricing levels,” states the ASA report.

The major manufacturers are the biggest players within this debate, and their concern is apparent. Lee Brass President and CEO Bruce Jameson is currently dealing with the reaction of escalating prices of copper and copper-based alloys. “The higher price is forcing many to look at alternatives such as plastic fittings. This in combination with the housing decline has greatly reduced the demand for smaller diameter copper-based products used in the residential market,” he says. However, economic and technological developments - along with the commercial markets - are said to remain strong, absorbing the potential excess supply.

“We see the market remaining slow through the second quarter with a slight upturn during the third and fourth quarter, but not significant enough to fully make up for the first half-year’s shortfall,” notes Jameson.

Plastic Trends Vice President Sales and Marketing Jay Eversoll agrees with the prediction for the market’s future. “Although commercial/industrial construction is better than the housing market, we still see soft demand,” he says. “This is resulting in over capacity, which will result in downward pressure on pricing. We see these trends continuing throughout 2007.”



Lee Brass

Featured Products Gallery

The 250# threaded brass union elbow from Lee Brass has a 300 psi working steam pressure rating and provides a leakproof seal and corrosion resistance to withstand most industrial applications. It is manufactured from smooth-cored castings, designed to provide full flow with minimum restrictions.

Plastic Trends

Perfect Fit™ DWV fittings from Plastic Trends carry triple-certification listing and are dimensionally accurate for easier installation. They are injection molded in sizes 4 to 12 inches and fabricated in sizes 10 to 24 inches.

Corzan

Corzan® piping systems are comprised of CPVC pipe, sheet, duct, fittings and valves. They are meant to resist highly corrosive fluids in a wide range of industrial environments, as well as extend system service life and reduce maintenance, while minimizing process life-cycle costs.

IPEX Inc.

IPEX Inc. supplies thermoplastic piping systems in industrial PVC, CPVC, ABS and natural and pigmented PP - for process piping, double containment, acid waste, high-purity and compressed air applications.

Charlotte Pipe

Charlotte Pipe’s industrial product line includes PVC Schedule 80 and Schedule 40 pipe and fittings and Corzan® CPVC Schedule 80 pipe and fittings. All Charlotte Pipe industrial products meet all applicable ASTM and NSF standards.

Rovanco Piping Systems

Rhinoflex pre-insulated piping from Rovanco Piping Systems is available in single and dual lines from 1 to 2 inches, with both PEX and PE Carrier Pipe.