ABS and U-PVC Pressure Pipework Comparison

Plastic pressure pipe systems are used primarily in industrial applications fulfilling a wide variety of functions. These include transporting liquid mediums or matter such as fluid or gases, which can include reverse osmosis water filtration and purification, effluent treatment in sewage facilities, farming and agricultural slurries and semisolid food production materials. 

ABS and U-PVC pipework systems fulfil their requirements consistently and reliably because a set of standards govern their manufacturing processes which guarantees their reliability and safety, this allows for consistency in performance and quality. The various standards for pipe system products are prepared by a European committee who create the manufacturing guidance for these items in order to meet their suitability for the different applications in which ABS and U-PVC pipes are used. Manufacturers adhere to these standards as they give consideration to factors such as chemical resistance for sewerage applications and hygiene requirements for the transportation of drinking water.

Our pipe system products are manufactured to the following quality standards:

  • ABS Pipe - BS5391 Part 1
  • ABS Fittings - BS5392 Part 1
  • PVC Pipe - EN 1452-2
  • PVC Fittings - EN 1452-3

In addition to this, the vast majority of our fittings carry the WRAS - Water Regulatory Advisory Service approval certification, which permits the products for safe use in drinking water and food production applications.

At epco, we also have a further quality standard for our company, which is the Quality Management System BS EN ISO 9001:2015which guarantees high standards in our commercial operation.

At epco we boast a huge range of high-quality plastic pressure pipework in the materials ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and U-PVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride). These are the most widely used pipe system materials, however there are also other materials which epco stock such as PP (Polypropylene) a range which will soon be added to our website, although U-PVC is the most popular pipe system material out of these three, with ABS in close second which is the comparison that we will look at below.

Both of these material types are made from injection moulded plastic polymers and essentially fulfil the same function, but there are subtle differences between the two types of plastic and their suitability for different applications. This is in a similar way to diesel and petrol being similar yet also having subtle but important differences. When choosing which of our two main pipe system material types to use there are several considerations to bear in mind.

Explained below is some information to help guide those with a requirement for ABS and U-PVC pipework as to which system type is best for them based on the material's different characteristics and features.

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) Pipe System Material

The pipe system material acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is the material of choice for use in the transportation of liquids with a high range of temperature variation, as ABS is suitable at working temperatures from (minus) -40C to (plus) +60C.The material is also often chosen for water conveyance as well as slurries and certain types of chemical transportation.

Another important feature of ABS is that the plastic is very strong and durable, making it ideal for use in environments where resistance to accidental damage from impact and abrasion is important. This particular pipe system material was originally designed for the petrochemical industry, with the temperature variance and cost effectiveness making it popular amongst engineers. 

U-PVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride) Pipe System Material

U-PVC, often referred to as just U-PVC, is the most popular thermoplastic pipe system material. This plastic was initially designed and began widespread use in the 1950’s in order to replace metal pipes which suffered from rusting and as a result poor system integrity for growing urban populations.

Further pressure system applications for this material grew in the fields of manufacturing and industrial applications as well as aquatics and aquaculture, irrigation and food production. This material is not suitable for wide temperature variances and extreme heat or cold, however the material does offer high chemical resistance and high-pressure rating whilst being widley avaiable in Metric sizes also. Cost effectiveness is key to this materials popularity in a diverse range of different settings. It is estimated that there is several million miles of U-PVC pipework used in industrial applications across the world.

Comparison of Both Materials

Both of the materials U-PVC and ABS are used in pipes as they are non-toxic and offer durability with ABS being slightly more durable, especially at low temperatures. Both materials offer resistance to most forms of saline solutions as well as alkali and acidic liquids. Although it is important to consider that these materials are not useful for particularly strong scented mediums as they can retain smells which seep into the plastic, this is of particular importance in food production.

In terms of installation, ABS is easier in this respect, however it must be remembered that when cementing ABS pipework this offers no gap filling properties and must fit flush to the joint as a result. In terms of U-PVC pipework this requires solvent welding with glues requiring fairly long cure times before system pressure can be applied. It is important to consider that ABS is more likely to suffer UV degradation as opposed to U-PVC, although both types of pipework can be used  below ground and above ABS is favored below ground to avoid sun damage when outdoors. Both types of pipework are suitable for ceiling or wall mounting and U-PVC is very flexible, with ABS pipework being more rigid.

Our range is divided between these two material types and is split as below:

Across our pipe system range we stock a wide variety of both plain, threaded and plain/threaded fittings in metric size range 16mm o.d. to 500mm o.d. and imperial size range 3/8” n.b. to 10” n.b. We also stock valves with an option of either EPDM or FPM seals in the metric size range 16mm o.d. to 100mm o.d. and imperial size range 3/8” n.b. to 4” n.b. Alongside this we offer a wide range of PVC pressure pipe in metric in PN6, PN10 and PN16 and both ABS + PVC Imperial pressure pipe in Class C, 7 (T), D, and E with many different accessories to complement this range.