So Electrofusion.. it’s a mix of electricity and fusion but what does that mean?
Electrofusion, or EF for short, is a method of joining PE pipe in situations where butt fusion is not practicable, like where valves, elbows and tees need to be added.
Specialised electrofusion fittings have electrical heating coils imbedded into them. When current is applied to these EF fittings, heat is created which melts the plastic of both the fitting and the pipe.
The plastic from both are forced to mix together under pressure due to the design of the fitting. Once the mixed plastic cools, the pipe and fitting are fused together permanently.
How does EF welding work?
The parameters of each fitting, like the fusion time, are recorded in the barcode on each fitting. These details are entered into the welding control box via a barcode scanner or some control boxes automatically detect a fitting’s settings when it is connected to the machine’s leads.
An electrofusion control box sends electrical current through metal coils inside the fitting. The current causes the metal to heat up. The plastic around the coils begins to melt and forms an expanding pool of hot, molten plastic. The melt pool from the fitting comes into contact with the surface of the pipe. The continued application of current causes the pipe surface to also melt.
The pipe melt and fitting melt is forced to mix as pressure builds up in the coupler area, due to the design of the fitting, forcing the two plastics together. This is key to producing a good weld. Following the end of the weld cycle, the fitting and the pipe are left to cool and the melted material solidifies to form a permanent joint.
Hot and cold zones, sometimes called melt and freeze zones, are formed when the wire coils heat up. The length of these zones is key to achieving melt pressure. The precise positioning of the coils in the fitting is also important to ensure uniform heat distribution.
Fusion parameters: temperature, pressure and time, are controlled by the electrofusion control box and it is fed parameters from the barcode on each fitting, or from the fitting itself. The electrofusion control box also records a report of the procedure with all the settings and data from the weld.
PLASSON has developed the SmartFuse system, which includes specialist fittings, a range of EF weld control boxes and an mobile phone app which guides installation, to help simplify the whole electrofusion process. Using the SmartFuse system makes welding quicker and easier. The automated process helps reduce errors and prompts installers to complete and double check all steps. You can read more about SmartFuse and watch our demonstration videos here…
No-one wants to re-do welds so the best way to save time, money and hassles is to ensure each and every weld is done according to best practice. The key to good electrofusion welding is contained in the POP001 guidelines for electrofusion installation.
POP001 was put together by PIPA, the Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia to detail the best practice processes and parameters for electrofusion welding. Following these steps will help ensure quality, long-lasting and reliable pipe connections, helping you be a better installer and achieve more reliable, leak-free EF welds.
This quick install video shows how the steps outlined in POP001 apply in the field.
PLASSON has developed the SmartFuse system to help make electrofusion welding simplier. All SmartFuse fittings have built-in resistors that automatically load the correct weld parameters for the fitting into PLASSON SmartFuse electrofusion weld machines.
Welding is made even easier thanks to the SmartFuse app. It not only guides and prompts installers to complete all of the best practice steps in POP001, the SmartFuse app records this information and the weld record either on USB or in the cloud.
It is important to know and understand all the steps outlined in POP 001 as omitting steps or failing to complete processes adequately can undermine weld quality and lead to failed pipelines.
The processes outlined in POP001 are known as best-practice. It is crucial to always follow best-practice as failure to do so can open operators up to claims of negligence and compromise insurance cover.
SmartFuse might just look like a product name etched into PLASSON fittings but it represents our commitment to high quality, reliable electrofusion welding – for installers, asset owners and those who rely on what comes down the pipes.
Over the last 50 years, metallic pipelines have been increasingly replaced by thermoplastic systems such as polyethylene, or PE. This is due to the significant advantages of PE like environmental resistance, especially corrosion, low maintenance demands and ease of installation; PE pipelines can even endure earthquakes.
Most newly installed water, sewage and gas distribution pipelines will be PE pipelines and they are increasingly being joined by electrofusion or EF. Electrofusion is considered the most reliable method of joining gas-carrying pipes. In fact, the gas industry was where EF was first used since gases can be hazardous if not secured properly.
SMARTFUSE: THE KEY TO RELIABLE LONG-LASTING INFRASTRUCTURE
Given the obvious need for reliable, long-lasting infrastructure, developing high quality electrofusion fittings and systems for installation has been a PLASSON priority.
With specialized control boxes, reliable electrofusion fittings and SmartFuse tooling, the SmartFuse electrofusion system helps deliver better electrofusion welding.
PLASSON SmartFuse electrofusion fittings range from options for small diameter poly pipe, like 16mm and 20mm, to options for large diameter civil water and waste water pipes at 400mm to 800mm, 900mm and even 1000mm.
Electrofusion delivers reliable results on small and large diameter poly pipe. EF is also suitable for pipes with a small diameter since it does not shrink the inner diameter of the pipe. So whether welding a 32mm to 1/2″ brass transition fitting or a saddle onto 63mm blue stripe pipe, PLASSON SmartFuse fittings are engineered to deliver quality electrofusion welds.
SMARTFUSE: TECHNOLOGY THAT WORKS SMARTER SO YOU DON’T WORK HARDER
The SmartFuse system offers fully automated welding and, when paired with the SmartFuse app, delivers image capture and cloud storage for all weld records. With the click of a button, weld data is stored and accessible, anywhere, anytime.
SmartFuse helps lower operational costs, reduces mistakes and joins can be easily traced and identified via the GPS data that is part of every SmartFuse weld record.
PLASSON is committed to innovation in the EF field. As a future focused company, we are continually working to improve what we offer, to facilitate better electrofusion welding, deliver enhanced asset management and asset visibility.
SmartFuse is one way PLASSON are helping raise the bar in electrofusion
The non-brittle and flexible characteristics of polyethylene make it ideal for many pressure and non-pressure applications. Those useful characteristics also mean PE pipe can alter shape. Ovality generally known as ‘out of roundness’ is one of the most common issues found in PE pipe. One of the best tips to ensure a quality electrofusion weld is to ensure that polyethylene pipe is not out-of-round before attempting the electrofusion process.
To determine if out-of-round conditions exists measure the pipe diameter in numerous directions across the pipe end with a tape measure. If the measurements exceed the maximum tolerance, a re-rounding clamp or device must be used to bring the pipe back to a round condition.
HOW DOES POLYETHYLENE PIPE BECOME OUT-OF-ROUND?
Installers need to confirm that polyethylene pipe matches all dimensional requirements for the job and the fitting being installed and that the pipe does not exceed the allowed ovality. If ovality is greater than allowed you must take steps to re-round the pipe.
Polyethylene pipe that is warehoused for a period of time or stacked on top of each other can experience ovality issues (more pronounced with large diameter pipe).
Large Diameter Polyethylene pipe will tend to relax a little during storage due to a combination of its weight and its natural flexibility.
Mechanical forces experienced during some trenchless installation techniques such as Pipe Bursting or Directional Drilling can temporarily leave the polyethylene pipe elongated and out-of-round.
Polyethylene pipe that has been underground for awhile is subjected to earth loads. These earth loads can cause the pipe to sag and/or become out-of-round.
WHY IT IS KEY TO ADDRESS PIPE OVALITY FOR ELECTROFUSION INSTALLATIONS
One of the most critical functions of the electrofusion process is to seal the gap between the pipe and the fitting and to build up interfacial pressures for the fusion process to take place. If this gap is not sealed and interfacial pressures cannot build up, there is no way for the electrofusion joint to effectively achieve the high quality fusion it was designed for.
If a pipe is out-of-round the initial concern is that the surface area of the pipe may not adequately come in contact with the fusion zone of the electrofusion fitting. This could result in the electrofusion fittings cold zones, which are designed to contain the material generated in the melt pool, allowing the molten material to escape out of the fusion area without producing any melt penetration. This is a key concern when installing tapping and branch saddles since they do not fully encircle the pipe like an electrofusion coupling.
HOW TO CORRECT OUT-OF-ROUND PIPE
First, determine if out-of-round conditions exists. This can be done visually for extreme cases or by measuring the pipe diameter in numerous directions across the pipe end with a tape measure. If the measurements exceed the maximum tolerance, a re-rounding clamp or device must be used to bring the pipe back to a round condition.
The following table shows the approved dimensions for PE100 pipe:
The PLASSON range includes high quality tools to prepare pipe correctly for electrofusion, inlcuding re-rounding clamps.
Click here to see PLASSON’s tooling range….
The Polymatic Plus is a very powerful electrofusion control unit for welding PE pipes with electrofusion fittings. The Polymatic Plus is a workhorse that delivers ease and speed without breaking the bank.
This cutting-edge electrofusion processor is designed around PLASSON’s SmartFuse System. Whether making a single electrofusion or taking on a big project, this electrofusion processor is up to the task and will deliver the highest quality electrofusion welds.
Operators will have peace of mind with the Polymatic Plus as the control box executes and fully monitors each and every electrofusion weld. The Polymatic Plus is rugged, reliable, and conforms to industry standards for electrofusion equipment. Features include Bluetooth and GPS capability, an easy-to-use barcode scanner, safe and reliable connectors, data recording, USB interface and compatibility with the SmartFuse mobile app.
WHAT COMES IN THE BOX: POLYMATIC PLUS
TIPS TO SIMPLIFY EF WELDING
Are you searching for electrofusion welding tips? Looking for that magic piece of advice wrapped up in an easy to watch video? Achieving good electrofusion welds is not quite that simple but you have come to the right place!
The best tip to achieving good EF welds is summed up in two simple words: “precision” and “accuracy”. Whether you are installing a 16mm coupler or a 1000mm fitting, precision and accuracy is crucial at every step of the process. A good weld is about following all the recommended steps, having the right precise tools to do the job and taking the time to use them accurately.
“Precision” is about instruments and their parameters.
As an example, vernier calipers will measure precise peel depth during pipe prep down to 0.02 mm. A metal rule is precise to 1 mm. That makes it perfect for witness marks but rules (!) it out for gauging precise peel depth.
Here is where “accuracy” steps in – the correct tool used correctly.
PIPA – the Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia – has created electrofusion industry guidelines, called POP001. It outlines the precison tools, accurate measurements and correct procedures (Best Practice) for EF welding.
Following the Best Practice steps in POP001 is the by far the best tip for achieving quality electrofusion welds.
Click here to read or download a copy… It has plenty of easy to understand diagrams and documents all the steps and measurements you need for successful electrofusion.
PLASSON created the SmartFuse EF system to deliver a framework to support the precision and accuracy required for successful electrofusion welding.
This system includes SmartFuse fittings with accurate welding parameters preloaded, robust welding control boxes which automatically detect weld parameters for all SmartFuse fittings and a free mobile app to guide installation and record key details, like GPS location, fitting type and barcode, for easy downstream management.
SmartFuse fittings have in-built resistors that feed accurate weld parameters to the SmartFuse control box once the fitting is connected. No manual entry and no scanning means it is not only faster to set up each and every weld but the potential for inaccurate input errors is eliminated.
The SmartFuse mobile app also helps make welding more accurate and precise. When using the app, installers are guided through weld steps, prompted to double-check settings and asked to confirm and record with photos of each step.
All visual records are stored along with details of the fitting being installed, precise location, installer ID, control box weld data and even the temperature on the day!
Weld data can be saved on site via USB, which is handy in remote areas with limited internet access, or, if you are using the SmartFuse App, data can be automatically uploaded to the cloud.
This gives managers and asset owners a real-time comprehensive picture of what is happening on any job, anywhere, anytime
QUICKER AND SMARTER WELDING
Weld times for PLASSON fittings are specific to the type of fitting. This is automatically detected by the SmartFuse control box. By combining all the elements in the SmartFuse system – the fittings, weld control box and SmartFuse App – users benefit from automatically loading of correct settings and recording of all weld activity.
On top of this, the safe storage of records is also take care as with the SmartFuse App all data can be automatically uploaded to the cloud to your preferred storage provider. Click here to find out how to sign up for a free SmartFuse App account..
The use of the SmartFuse system does not remove the requirement for EF installers to be certified. SmartFuse is designed to support certified electrofusion installers to work efficiently and accurately as well as helping by automatically recording detailed weld data for future reference.
See how SmartFuse fittings and welding control boxes work in this handy demo video:
PLASSON’s SmartFuse mobile app is designed to make electrofusion simpler and more efficient. And it is 100% free to use and always will be.
PLASSON’s SmartFuse offers a weld recording and reporting system. When using the app, installers are not only guided through systemised welds, the app ensures photos record each step. These visual records are stored along with details for the fitting being installed, the precise location, the installer’s ID, all control box weld stage times and data and even the temperature on the day!
This data can be saved on site via USB, which is handy in remote areas with limited internet access, or automatically in the cloud. This gives managers and asset owners a real-time comprehensive picture of what is happening on any job, anywhere, anytime
WATCH HOW THE SMARTFUSE APP SIMPLIFIES ELECTROFUSION
PLASSON’s SmartFuse 180 is an entry-level electrofusion welding machine designed to weld PLASSON fittings up to DN180. Features include:
• Lightweight, weighs less than 14 kg
• Compact (470 x 370 x 180 mm)
• Bluetooth enabled for smartphones using PLASSON SmartFuse App
• Use app to automatically determine and record welding parameters
• 10 Amp plug
• Tough weather-proof carry case
• 3 m lead
SEE WHAT IS IN THE BOX: PLASSON SMARTFUSE 180
NOTE: To achieve quality EF welds, it is key to use tooling specficially designed to EF welding and to follow all best practice procedure outlined in POP001.
It is also important to ensure equipment, such as EF welding control boxes, that require calibration has been calibrated. PLASSON recommends control boxes are serviced every 12 months or after 200 hours of use, which ever comes first.
Why PE makes sense and cents!
This industry is pumped full of letters and numbers – like SDR11, HDPE, PE100 and PN16. There is handy information in those codes that explains exactly what amazing PE can do. And, when it comes to the different grades of PE, or polyethylene, the magic of what each one delivers is definitely in the detail.
You will find LDPE widely used in plastic packaging or plastic wrap. HDPE is often found in construction and plumbing. And UHMW PE, which is many times stronger than steel, is a high-performance plastic used in bulletproof vests!
The process that makes PE a success was developed in the 1950s by two scientists, Karl Ziegler of Germany and Giulio Natta of Italy. Polyethylene is now one of the most widely produced thermoplastics in the world. It’s light and strong – it’s cheap to transport, easy to handle and safe to store making it a smarter choice than most other materials – especially when it comes to PE pipe.
Polyethylene, like other plastics, starts with the distillation of hydrocarbon fuels into lighter groups called “fractions”. Some can be combined with other catalysts to produce plastics (typically via polymerization or polycondensation).
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is a very flexible material with unique flow properties that makes it particularly suitable for shopping bags and other plastic film applications. LDPE has high ductility but low tensile strength, which is why it stretches when strained.
Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) is an extremely dense version of polyethylene. It is spun into threads with tensile strengths many times greater than steel and used in bulletproof vests and high-performance equipment.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is a robust, moderately stiff plastic with a highly crystalline structure. It is used to make all types of strong and tough containers. The HDPE used to produce corrosion-free, long-life pipelines for water, waste water and gas is called PE100. PLASSON’s range of poly pipe joiners are designed to easily and securely join PE100 pipelines.
PE is classified as a “thermoplastic” (as opposed to “thermoset”), based on the way the plastic responds to heat.
Thermoplastic vs thermoset
One of the benefits of thermoplastics is they can be heated to their melting point, cooled, and reheated again without degradation. By contrast, thermoset plastics can only be heated once. The first heating causes thermoset materials to set (a bit like a 2-part epoxy), resulting in a chemical change that cannot be reversed. These properties are what makes PE ideal for gas pipelines joined by electrofusion fittings like the PLASSON SmartFuse range.
PE is rugged, flexible, and durable. Both the pipe and PE pipe fittings have outstanding chemical and environmental stress crack resistance. PE pipelines have been successfully used in a wide variety of applications for over 50 years. Add to that strength and corrosion-resistance, and you get a life-span far in advance of other pipe materials.
PLASSON began over 50 years ago and has grown into a global family of over 2,000 people.
Our Australian team is based all over the country. From Kalgoorlie to Cairns, Toowoomba to Tassie, we have PLASSON people on hand to help.
PLASSON are constantly working on new things but we will never change our commitment to excellence, service and support.