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Tested to the limit

Which of these materials is best suited for discharge pipes, that are in service for decades on end? Test material samples in different highly concentrated solutions and find out which material is the most robust. To do so, drag the samples into the different bowls.

Probing the limits

San­i­tary prod­ucts have to work per­fectly for decades. This is why Geberit at­taches ut­most im­por­tance to se­lect­ing the best pos­si­ble prod­uct ma­te­r­ial. In its own lab­o­ra­to­ries, Geberit sys­tem­at­i­cally goes to the lim­its – and be­yond.

Today, plas­tics tech­nol­o­gists and prod­uct de­vel­op­ers can choose from thou­sands of dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als, many of which are sub­ject to on­go­ing fur­ther de­vel­op­ment and op­ti­mi­sa­tion. This also in­cludes poly­eth­yl­ene – a key plas­tic in the ther­mo­plas­tics class (the lead pic­ture of this an­nual re­port shows black-coloured plas­tic gran­u­late for Geberit fit­tings).

The wide world of poly­eth­yl­ene

Geberit uses poly­eth­yl­ene (PE for short) in dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tions to man­u­fac­ture prod­ucts such as cis­terns, com­po­nents of build­ing drainage sys­tems and drink­ing water pipes. The most suit­able PE type is eval­u­ated for each prod­uct in the com­pany’s own ma­te­ri­als lab­o­ra­to­ries.

High requirements

In sanitary technology, the service life of a material is one of the most important selection criteria. For example, plastic pipes for drinking water and discharge piping systems in buildings have to fulfil extremely demanding functional specifications according to ISO standards and yield a certified service life of 50 years. As it would not be realistic to test new materials for 50 years before they can be used in practice, the ageing process has to be accelerated during the testing phase.

Comprehensive testing

Various tests are carried out to evaluate the long-term properties of materials and predict their service life. For example, a PE material for drinking water applications is exposed for months to warm water containing a high level of chlorine in order to test how resistant it is to this relatively aggressive element. This is relevant given the fact that potable water in many places contains chlorine, albeit in very low concentrations. In another series of tests, samples of the same material are “cooked” at high pressure in autoclaves containing excess oxygen until they become brittle. The degradation mechanisms and its progression over time is then examined using state-of-the-art analytical equipment.

These tests and analyses can often take several years. If a material performs well in all of these tests, Geberit may decide to take advantage of these benefits in new or existing products.