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Information Tube Materials


A Guide to Tube Materials
We get many calls from our readers wanting advice on the suitability and applications of the various tube materials currently on the market. Leading expert within the industry, Ian Shaw, of Chiorino Ltd, assists by providing an overview of the subject in order to shed light on this much debated subject.

A major advantage of Hypalon material is the colour range available, which is much wider than that seen for PVC or PU. Also, the exibility and extensibility of Hypalon materials gives greater freedom of design where aesthetic appeal is a critical consideration. Useful tip - Hypalon has a relatively absorbent surface and soon picks up air and water-born pollution. If you seal the surface with a good quality sealant specically designed for Hypalon, you will keep the tube looking good for longer.

The vast majority of PU tubes are now thermowelded. This technique results in seams that are exceptionally reliable, even in extreme high temperature and should not be confused with the PVC seam problems seen some years back. It is commonly believed that PVC tubes have always been fabricated by welding, but in fact, in the past many seams used to be glued. For some time now, welded PVC seams have been the rule and this has dramatically improved reliability. The PU materials in common use in the UK and Europe are signicantly stronger than Hypalon or PVC equivalents and have far better abrasion resistance. The PU is inherently stain

Polyurethane tubed RIB

Hypalon tubed RIB

PVC tubed inatable

he aim of this article is to give some general guidance to the purchaser of a new RIB on the advantages and disadvantages of different tube materials. Whilst many people with experience in this eld have, for various understandable reasons, strong preferences, I will try to be as objective as possible. The fact that my major customers produce RIBs with Hypalon, PVC, and polyurethane tubes is a strong incentive! As a purchaser of a RIB, your priorities will vary according to circumstances, but usually considerations of price, durability and aesthetics will top the list. Let us start by having a quick look at the various coating options available.

especially for the smaller RIBs, but for larger RIBs choice is limited. Useful tip - ask if the PVC coating has a protective lacquer coating - this provides a protective layer and enhances durability.

For many years Hypalon has been the material chosen by most RIB builders for medium and large RIBs. It is well suited to small-scale manufacturing and doesnt require investment in expensive welding equipment. Hypalon gives the RIB builder great exibility in terms of style and colour and has a well proven history of durability. Nevertheless, challenges are being made, by PVC as a lower cost option, but also by Polyurethane at the quality end of the market. Whilst heavy duty Hypalon materials, by virtue of the heavier reinforcement fabric serve perfectly well for the most demanding applications, there is a move amongst military purchasers in the USA and Europe to heavy duty PU, based on the results of extensive eld tests. Please be aware that appearances can sometimes be a little deceptive. Some Hypalon tubes have on the exterior a base coat of Neoprene and a top coat of Hypalon, as opposed to a coating of 100% Hypalon. This can be important in two-ways. Firstly, for tubes that experience a signicant amount of abrasion, the Neoprene layer has abrasion resistance approximately half that of Hypalon (also about half that of PVC). Secondly, in very hot conditions you have a risk (albeit a very small risk) of delamination between the Hypalon and Neoprene layers.

resistant and is the best material for maintaining an as new appearance. On the other hand, this material is not available in a wide range of colours and does not lend itself to sleek styling. Useful tip - in areas of high UV levels, keeping your RIB under cover when not in use will extend its working life even further. IanShaw Ian Shaw is the Technical Sales Director for the Coated Fabric Division of Chiorino UK Ltd. He has a degree in Chemistry and has worked in the Coated Fabrics Industry for nearly 30 years. Chriorino UK belongs to a major multi-national group of companies and sells large quantities of Hypalon/Neoprene and Polyurethane coated fabrics mainly to Europe, Australasia and the UK.

There is no question that PVC provides the lowest cost option and, provided conditions of use are not too severe it can provide an excellent choice for many users. The problems that beset some PVC tubes about 10 years ago have been largely resolved. This is reected in the increased condence shown in building large RIBs in PVC. However, it pays to be prudent with PVC. Do your homework, - has the builder got a good reputation? Even, the best PVC does not compare with polyurethane for durability. Polyurethane has an abrasion resistance many times better than PVC and has far superior strength and has better resistance to extremes of cold and heat as well as better resistance to petrochemicals. Hypalon has a similar abrasion resistance as PVC but has better ageing properties and will generally outlast PVC. PVC is therefore a good option where price is a major constraint,

To sum up, then, this would be my professional advice, according to the type of application involved: High durability/High performance First choice: Polyurethane Second choice: Heavy duty Hypalon Lowest price First choice: PVC The costs of Hypalon and PU tubes are fairly similar. PU is much more expensive as a material but costs less to fabricate into tubes. Highly styled/wide range of colours First choice: Hypalon General usage Finely balanced according to individual preferences. Use in high ambient temperatures First choice: Polyurethane - but not generally available in white at present.

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