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Plastic Tubing Vs Metal Tubing

Most modern infrastructures—including gas, petroleum, waste, water, and architectural applications—depending on tubing and pipes. Tubing comes in two main material types, metal, and plastic, and each type offers different features and capabilities. We will explain the benefits and applications of plastic tubing and metal tubing to help you make the best choice for your application’s needs.

Benefits & Applications of Plastic Tubing

Plastic is a versatile tubing material. It can be custom engineered to meet the characteristics required for a chosen application. The benefits of plastic tubing include:

  • Cost efficiency: Plastic tube pipes can be produced at a fraction of the cost of most metal tubes.
  • Lightweight: Compared to metal tubing, lightweight plastic tubing is easier to transport and install.
  • Durability: Plastic tubing remains durable throughout its lifespan, and many can resist corrosion and chemicals without additional coatings.
  • Versatility: Plastic tubing requires minimal fittings to install and can be cut to exact or approximate lengths.
  • Functionality: Plastic tubing has smooth interior surfaces that allow water and other substances to pass through at higher flow rates.
  • Flexibility: Plastic tubing can bend without cracking or stressing its structural integrity.
  • Sustainability: Producing tubing from plastic has a lower carbon footprint than producing metal tubing, and many plastic materials are recyclable.

A variety of industries rely on plastic tubing, including:

  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Agriculture 
  • Industrial
  • Plumbing
  • Construction
  • Food & Beverage

Benefits & Applications of Metal Tubing

The high strength of metal tubing is its main asset for most applications. Here are some other advantages of metal tubing:

  • Corrosion and stain resistance: Metal tubing materials like stainless steel resist corrosion and staining from water, soil, chemicals, and UV rays.
  • Adaptability: Most metal tubing is constructed from alloys combining several metals to boost its overall qualities. For example, stainless steel tubing can withstand high temperatures, but adding elements like nitrogen, nickel, and molybdenum to its composition can enhance the metal’s corrosion resistance.
  • Sustainability: Certain metals, like steel, are 100% recyclable. In fact, as much as 70% of the steel produced in North America comes from recycled sources, which significantly reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing metal tubing.
  • Uniformity: Metal can be formed into consistent shapes and sizes with tight tolerances.
  • Capacity: Because of its high strength, metal tubing can be made thin, enhancing its capacity without increasing weight or compromising durability.

The following industries rely on metal tubing’s unique properties:

  • Construction
  • Water and waste
  • Automotive
  • Railroad
  • Medical
  • Plumbing
  • Solar

Choosing Which Type of Tubing Is Right for You

When comparing metal vs. plastic tubing, there are several key factors to consider: price, material conductivity, and environment. Plastic tubing is typically less expensive than metal tubing. The weight and flexibility of plastic tubing can reduce the cost of transporting, handling, and installing the tubing.

Some use cases—such as electrical applications—require non-conductive tubing. This is where plastic tubing is the better choice since the material is not conductive. It is also critical to consider the interactions and environment of your application. Determine whether the plastic or metal tubing will need to withstand weather, UV rays, or extreme temperatures.

Custom Plastic Tubing from Inline Plastics

Metal and plastic tubing offer different advantages, but they each can perform in a wide range of applications. Plastic tubing is light, flexible, and cost-effective. Metal tubing offers greater strength and stability, making it suitable for heavy-duty applications. Consider your intended application to find a solution that best suits your needs and budget.

Inline Plastics, Inc. is a plastic extrusion manufacturer that delivers high-quality plastic pipes and tubing for various applications. We work with more than 20 types of thermoplastics to produce custom plastic tubing and can create custom plastic profiles to your exact specifications. Contact us or request a quote to learn more about our custom plastic extrusion services.

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