Metals, the preferred choice for the contractor



Results of a recent survey by the UK Copper Board into what UK contractors look for most in a plumbing pipework material reveal that copper is still the one that ticks most boxes.*
Mike Davies, Conex Bänninger’s Commercial Manager for the UK looks at some of the reasons why copper and other metal fittings still shine.

Throughout antiquity, copper and steel have played a vital role in mankind’s desire to innovate and improve his environment. Today, due to it’s ability to enhance building technologies and it’s great contribution to various ecological buildings performance, these materials role extends well beyond those historical uses and remains more important than ever.

In plumbing, copper and it’s many alloys offer unique, physical and mechanical properties. This ensures that engineers, designers and specifiers not only achieve their performance specification, but can also meet their environmental and cost goals.

Like copper, steel can also trace it’s history back 4000 years. The processing of steel making has gone through many innovations, however the vital importance of the material and it’s contemporary steels such as carbon steel (iron and carbon) with it’s high strength and low alloy content allow this combination to fulfil many purposes we take for granted in today’s technological advanced society.

Copper and Carbon fittings are compatible with leading renewable and advanced HEVAC technologies such as solar, heat pumps, biomass and high pressure refrigeration systems, with many metal fittings products found in leading modern building systems around the world. They offer lifelong service and in most instances are fully and easily recycled, ensuring continued sustainability.

During the past decade, strong growth in emerging economies, coupled with an increased use of copper for innovative technologies, has led to significantly higher demand. The recovery and recycling of copper is not only important in helping to satisfy this demand, it also conserves natural resources for a sustainable future. From extraction to recycling, copper has minimal impact on energy consumption and natural resources. It is one of the few materials that can be recycled again and again without losing it’s strength or durability, with over 80% of copper ever mined remaining in use today.

Metal fittings prove to be extremely flexible and reliable
Metal fittings’ unique properties also make it the perfect partner to other traditional and newer, technology driven materials, giving the installer or specifier complete flexibility in any system. Reliability is an important factor for any contractor and metal’s proven track record makes this an easy choice.

The important health properties of copper fittings
Copper traps, wastes and fittings are ideal for medical, pharmaceutical, food preparation and other sensitive environments thanks to their proven antimicrobial properties. As part of a network design, copper is capable of continuously killing pathogenic microbes it can reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections. Although copper has been used for these properties for centuries, this has now been scientifically proven in rigorous clinical trials across the globe.

The perfect solution for safety in consumable water
Proliferation of bacteria in water networks can be a major health risk, particularly for people in poor health. Therefore, in recognising this, the EU has since 2000 given clear regulations to member states on their responsibilities to provide a consistent water quality policy by 2015. “Numerous antimicrobial efficiency studies have been conducted in the past ten years regarding coppers ability to destroy a wide range of bacteria, as well as influenza A virus”

When you need a flame free solution
The challenge today is to reduce potential damage to life and the building fabric whilst under construction. Working practises and products must adapt to these conditions. One important factor is to try to avoid naked flame or heat on site. Another is to avoid products that make may off-gas or harm fire fighters. Copper and steel pipe fittings utilising push-fit, crimping and compression technology overcome these problems.

Temperature & pressure resistant
Metallic pipe systems are tough, durable and have the ability to withstand accidental malfunction conditions that may render other pipe materials unusable. Thus ensuring a long service life, without decreasing performance, making copper and steel the professional choice for projects.

Solvent free jointing
Metal fittings can be installed in a wide variety of ambient conditions. Extreme cold or hot working temperatures present no delays often encountered whilst making solvent joints. No extended joint curing times are required, as this can be particularly troublesome for repair or maintenance.

Low Expansion
When any pipe work are heated or cooled, it’s length changes by an amount proportional to the original length and the change in temperature. Linear thermal expansion can be particularly problematic especially where space constraints exist i.e. ceiling voids or riser shafts. Products manufactured from copper and steel benefit from low rates of expansion and contraction.

Helping you on price
The continual demand for metal and it’s recyclable properties ensures a competitive price against other materials for the specifier and installer alike.

Some of these qualities are unique and have for one purpose or in combination, contributed to putting metal fittings at the top of the contractor’s most requested materials list. Metals have proven to be the material that can meet the demands of new technologies making it as viable today as it has ever been.