When using a chemical that can eat through some substances, you need a pipefitting solution that will stand the test of time. It’s why Mike’s Mechanical in Lewiston, Idaho, used MegaPress Stainless fittings for chemical lines in a manufacturing process.
The customer has a high-tech facility where proprietary systems manufacture the company’s circuit boards. The boards are used in everything from outlets to boilers to power transformers, all over the United States.
During production of the circuit boards, some pieces are soldered together. To reduce the risk of a short during usage, the boards are run through a cleaning process before the final step, and that process involves both chemicals and high heat.
“We had an issue, between the heat and the chemical, that things would become so brittle that they’d break if you touched them,” explained Blake Bunney, foreman for Mike’s Mechanical who did much of the work at the facility. “We had to make sure our fittings were something that the chemical wasn’t going to eat through.”
Bunney explained that the boards are loaded into what looks like a commercial dishwasher and cleaned with very high-temperatures and chemicals.
At the manufacturing facility, the cleaning station was relocated within the building, so Mike’s Mechanical ran about 2,000 feet of stainless pipe, then used between 150 and 250 MegaPress Stainless 316 fittings, in sizes 1⁄2″ to 1 1⁄2″ to connect it all.
Besides knowing that the EPDM fittings would hold up under corrosive usage, Bunney said Viega had other advantages for the job, too.
“The product is super clean and so we can do it all inside the building,” he said. “With threading, you have oils. With Viega you don’t have to worry about that.”
Making any kind of mess inside the facility is a no-go. Because of the delicate nature of the circuit boards, special flooring protects against static electricity and any kind of foreign source such as threading oil wouldn’t be allowed. The fact that Viega fittings don’t require anything extra and create no mess is a huge plus for this situation.
And, threading stainless is finicky because it’s coarse and hard to get a perfect thread, Bunney said, so there’s extra time required on every fitting and joint as opposed to pressing.
“With the Viega press fittings we could prefab and dry-fit everything together. Plug and play,” he said.
Bunney noted that not having to thread pipe saved a lot of time on the job, which he completed with the help of his apprentice, Mike Ortiz, in about four weeks. Bunney said he was quite impressed with how well Viega products went in and worked for this project.
“I’ve been using Viega ProPress for compressed air and a lot of other things,” Bunney said. “So my manager and I talked with our supplier and we specified how this would work so that the chemicals wouldn’t eat the seal. We went through a double-check with Viega and the company that makes the chemical on the compatibility, for peace of mind for the client, that it was the best choice.
“We came out ahead on cost, saving on labor, and I think the biggest thing was the cleanliness of it all really saved us time,” Bunney said.