Mechanical Hub presents this multi-part series on pressing technology. Every week MH will feature a Q&A with the leaders in pressing technology. Press technology is gaining momentum as the preferred choice in pipe joining. Introduced into the North American market in 1999 by Viega, pressing is gaining acceptance as the most efficient and cost effective method of joining piping materials. Press currently makes up nearly 12% of the copper fitting market, and that number is expected to rise with contractor education and training.
Mechanical Hub recently talked with some of the major players in the press technology market to learn more about what they are doing in this growing market.
Part 2 of the series continues with an exclusive interview with Monty Betts, Associate Product Manager — Metals, Viega.
MH: Name some of the applications in which pressing is ideal? (residential plumbing & radiant, large mechanical jobs, etc.)
MB: Pressing is suitable for any job that has limited down time. Most commercial and Industrial projects have very tight job schedules and press technology can be a huge time saving benefit. Press technology provides the ability to install under flow conditions in residential, commercial and industrial applications. Applications include compressed air, steam, chilled water, natural gas, potable water, and heating systems.
Viega MegaPress system
MH: What is the scope of press piping? Copper, PEX, Stainless, Iron, etc.?
MB: Viega is the only press fitting manufacture to offer copper, PEX, stainless steel and carbon steel systems.
MH: Are your pressing tools proprietary? Or can they be interchangeable with other manufacturer's pressing clamps and fittings?
MB: Viega recommends Ridgid press tools, jaws and ring sets. They are not proprietary and may be used on some other competitors fittings. Some competitor press tools and jaws may be used with Viega press fittings. Ridgid 2-1/2” to 4” press rings for copper and bronze are only compatible with Viega fittings.
MH: I have heard the pressing is used almost exclusively in Europe. Why has it taken the North American market so long to catch on?
MB: This is a multi-answer question. Viega introduced press technology to the US in 1999. There were no national standards recognizing press fittings in the US. Developing standards at the national level sometimes takes years, as has been the case with press technology. ASME B16.51, the standard for Copper and Copper Alloy Press-Connect Fittings was issued January 31, 2012 after being in development for over 10 years. Press fittings, when first introduced, was viewed as a potable water system only. Press systems are now found in various applications including fire sprinkler, steam, process water, natural gas and many other s.
MH: To that last point, can you guesstimate the pressing market in the U.S. as opposed to sweating and other pipe joining methods?
MB: Press technology makes up approximately 12% of the copper fitting market.
MH: Is pressing technology continually evolving? (effectiveness, ergonomics, weight, cordless & battery efficiency, larger pipe diameters, etc.)
MB: Yes. Viega works closely with RIDGID in developing new tools, jaws and ring sets. Viega introduced MegaPress, an Iron Pipe Size carbon steel press fitting, to the market in February, 2012. This system utilizes existing Ridgid press tools along with new Iron Pipe Size jaws and rings. Press tool manufactures are now providing their tools with the longer lived lithium ion batteries, which also weigh less than the older style batteries.
MH: I have used the pressing tools so the obvious question would be, why wouldn't contractors use pressing technology?
MB: There is a perception in the field that the tool and the systems are priced out of reach for many small contractors. When a press system is compared to the traditional methods of joining pipe, it can be shown that not only will the contractor save time on the installation but many of the traditional hazards of installation are eliminated.
Larger diameters, more piping materials and more fitting configurations will be available in the future. These developments will continue the growth of the press market and provide contractors with reliable, consistent, profitable pipe joining options in the future. For more information, www.viega.net.
Monty Betts is Associate Product Manager — Metals, Viega.