PVC resin production ramped up in the early 1950s to meet demand from a rapidly growing country, including new applications for potable water and sewer pipes that were lightweight, could resist chemicals and didn't rust like traditional iron pipes.
Polyethylene pipes were introduced a few years later with other benefits attractive to cities and utilities, and an emerging industry began to establish its foundation. However, challenges that face many new products also began to surface.
“People were wondering how long will this stuff last, what pressures can it handle and for what length of time,” Tony Radoszewski, president of the Plastics Pipe Industry, said in a telephone interview. “There was a need to establish confidence in the long-term performance of plastic pipes.”
The Dallas-based trade association responded in 1958 with the formation of a nine-member evaluation committee now called the Hydrostatic Stress Board (HSB).
“They started to address concerns so this emerging industry could get the confidence of design engineers so they'd start using the products,” Radoszewski said.
Almost 60 years later, HSB is still at it with up to 25 engineers, chemists, scientists and other experts in thermoplastics serving as volunteers. They provide guidance to the industry on demonstrating the long-term strength of the material produced by resin manufacturers, the composite structures produced by pipe manufacturers, and the ingredients used for final compounds.
Applicants seeking an HSB listing have a role in products aimed at gas, municipal water, wastewater, sewer and industrial water systems. With the evolution of plastics and pipe structures that have multiple layers of multiple materials, the board's work has become more complex and dynamic in recent years. This is spurring some changes at PPI, which has reconstructed the HSB website to expedite the listing process.