How to Choose the Right Wafer Plate Material
Choosing the right wafer plate material is important, which is why it’s ideal to fully understand the options available. Read further for more details.
Determining the ideal material for your compressor part needs, including wafer plates, is an important step in the replacement process. Predominately, your options will be limited to thermoplastics and metallic. But, aside from having different prices, they each possess different properties.
So, if you are trying to choose between thermoplastic or metallic wafer plate material, here are some points to consider along the way.
Most materials are at risk of corrosion or degradation over time. However, certain materials are more susceptible under different circumstances. For example, certain low grades of steel can be prone to rust. While the risk is low with when the steel contacts many liquids, the risk is higher for steel exposed to salt water. Additionally, steel doesn’t generally respond well to certain chlorides.
Thermoplastics have a significantly lower melting point than stainless steel. For example, rigid PVC can reach melt temperature at approximately 350 degrees F. In contrast, stainless steel must reach a temperature of around 2,500 degrees F.
While neither point should be reached during standard compressor operations, it is important to note the difference depending on the overall purpose and general environment in which the compressor is operated. For example, an average house fire can reach 1,100 degrees F. In that case, thermoplastic components would have completely melted, while steel parts should remain intact.
Based on the use of both materials in standard compressor options, neither thermoplastics nor stainless steel should pose a significant risk to associated fluids. However, metallic elements from stainless steel can interact with fluids, so it is important to verify whether the risk is present based on any materials in use as well as the potential for incidental exposure.
While both thermoplastic and steel options can provide the amount of material strength required for use in wafer plates, steel does generally provide for a more durable form in regards to unexpected impact. For example, the impact resistance of steel piping is significantly higher than that associated with PVC piping.
While wafer plate material might not receive much physical abuse, a thermoplastic can be more prone to chipping and other small signs of damage in comparison to steel. This can be relevant in cases where you prefer to keep a few spare parts on hand to streamline the replacement process. With that in mind, choose a wafer plate material based on the circumstances in which they will be stored.
Most metals, including steel, are 100 percent recyclable. The task is often accomplished using industrial grade metal processing machinery from the likes of Doyle Machinery. This means, once a steel wafer plate needs replacing, the old one can be brought to an appropriate recycling center. Since it is 100 percent reusable, no material is lost during the recycling process. That means, if you brought in one pound of steel to recycle, it produces one pound of steel at the end.
Thermoplastics such as polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polystyrene are also 100 percent recyclable. However, the recycling code assigned to the plastic varies depending on the exact material used. For example, polyvinyl chloride is assigned to recycling code “3” while polypropylene is assigned to recycling code “5.” You will need to determine if your local recycling center accepts the specific material of which the wafer plate is made before bringing it in for recycling.
Other Considerations for Wafer Plate Performance
There is more to a high-quality wafer plate than the materials. For example, the precision with which the wafer plate is produced is also a top consideration. With any piece of machinery, locating replacement parts that integrate properly into the original compressor design ensure ideal operation. Ill-fitting parts will not move as smoothing during operation.
Additionally, they can prevent the valve from closing completely even when put into the closed position. This may lead to incidentally pressure loss through slow leaks.
Whether a part fits properly can be based less on the material than the manufacturing. High-quality parts manufacturers use precision equipment, such as laser cutting tools, to ensure each part meets the required specifications and standards. Additionally, the need for CNC machining knowledge is only the beginning, as they also need to select the appropriate pattern and choose an optimal material based on OEM standards.
Original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, standards reflect the specifications set forth by the producer of the compressor or valve in question. The principle is similar to that of using the right gasoline in your car and maintaining the right tire pressure based on the information in your car’s manual.
Every product made is based on a certain plan. In large-scale operations based on the production of complex pieces of machinery, every individual component within the machine meets a certain specification. The OEM determines these requirements based on achieving ideal performance.
Some replacement part manufacturers create components using the same requirements as the OEM set forth when the piece of machinery was initially produced. This ensures that the replacement part will work as well as the original. Purchasing parts from a business that does not adhere to OEM standards can result in an ill-fitting part and diminished performance.
In some cases, people simply prefer to work with one wafer plate material over another. If you find that one option meets your needs in regards to price, durability, and function, then sticking with what works for you can be a decision-making point in itself. However, if you find yourself battling with certain shortcomings, then examining your wafer plate material options more thoroughly can potentially help you locate a better solution.
When in doubt, speak with experts in the valve and compressor part industry. Additionally, refer to your owner’s manual or research OEM specification to determine manufacturer recommendations and requirements. In some cases, using the incorrect form of a part can result in subprime performance or even unexpected damage. If you have a product under warranty, and there are precise expectations regarding replacement components, then make sure all work is performed based on those requirements. Otherwise, you might risk voiding your warranty.
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