Springfield, Mo.-based United Poly Systems LLC is extruding a new line of HDPE pipe in the same sizes as traditional copper tubes and iron pipes for a range of applications, particularly water uses.
Called Crystal Line, the new products come in the same size as copper tubes of ¾ inch to 2 inches for drinking water and irrigation applications as well as iron pipe sizes of ¾ inch to 6 inch for both water uses and telecommunications, utility, electrical and oil and gas applications.
The new size products will be part of a larger suite of HDPE pipe offerings to be called Earth Line, Logan Bridges, United Poly sales and marketing vice president, said in a phone interview. The pipes will be promoted, in part, as a sustainable way to address the loss of treated water in the United States due to pipe leaks and breaks.
The U.S. averages 240,000 water main breaks per year, wasting more than 2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water while leaking and aging pipes are estimated to waste 6 billion gallons of treated water per day, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
"So much treated water is wasted from broken PVC lines or corroded metallic lines. The old metallic infrastructure isn't doing us any favors in terms of water conservation," Bridges said.
HDPE pipes, which are used widely in Europe for potable water systems, don't leak, corrode, leach lead or pull apart at the joints during earthquakes and freeze-thaw cycles.
Founded in 2011, United Poly manufactures HDPE pipe in Springfield and Albuquerque, N.M. New equipment, including tooling imported from Germany, was purchased for both sites to produce HDPE pipe at the tighter tolerances and smaller sizes necessary for the copper-size tube dimensions.
"PE is newer as a pipe material and these sizes are a way for us to match what installers are used to with the copper tube dimensions," Bridges said. "We had to make some modifications to achieve the smaller coiler sizes and hit the tighter tolerance required. The tooling we ordered ensures we're dead on with the industry requirements for this new copper-tube size product."
Crystal Line pipes meet or exceed industry standards for water pressure set by the American Water Works Association and the American Society for Testing and Materials, the company says.
Market opportunities for HDPE pipe continue to expand as initiatives to repair and improve the country's infrastructure are implemented and alternatives to traditional metal products are considered, Bridges said.
In the past year, United Poly has expanded its product line from a maximum of 16-inch diameters up to 26 inches. The New Mexico site was expanded by about 20,000 square feet to 85,000 square feet in 2020 and new employees are gradually being added.
The 50,000-square-foot Missouri site is in a developed area without room to physically expand.
"We update our machinery more frequently than we need to in Missouri to maximize our output," Bridges said.
United Poly has about 110 employees and an extensive U.S. distribution network receiving products from the two manufacturing facilities.
The Crystal Line product line will serve customers better and extend United Poly's reach into new market segments, according to CEO Chris Reiter.
"Customers who choose Crystal Line pipe over traditional copper can enjoy the many benefits of corrosion-free HDPE including 50- to 100-year life span, elimination of solder joints, ease of installation, and shipment on coils or reels," Reiter said in a press release.
United Poly also offers customized options with ribbed interiors to maximize the distance cable may be pulled or jetted, pull tape, or a lubricated interior for easier installation.