A: PVF stands for pipe, valves, and fittings. It’s really a slang term that we use in our industry because what we do encompasses a lot more than pipe valves and fittings. Anything that the plants need to run their facilities is what we sell. Whether it be hoses and assemblies, couplings, pipe—anything they need, we provide.
PVF and all that it encompasses is used in just about every industry—retail, oil and gas, construction, waterparks, and more. When all the components that makeup PVF are combined in systems, they allow for the movement of substances from point A to point B. Now, the substance being moved could be several things.
From potable water to the natural gas piped into most Houston homes, it doesn’t happen without the PVF industry. If the PVF industry suddenly disappeared, daily life would be pretty difficult after a few days without supplies.
Given that every industry uses some form of PVF, all of the components within this realm can be very different. They can differ in function, size, shape, and materials—they can come in plastic, metal, vinyl, HDPE, and more.
So, what all is the PVF industry comprised of? That’s a good question with a long answer, so sit back and get comfortable.
What Does PVF Encompass Besides Pipe, Valves, And Fittings?
Although pipes, valves, and fittings are all often put into the same category together (hence the unifying acronym), they all have their characteristics and purposes. There are also quite a few parts and components in between such as hoses, clamps, pipe mounts, and more. But, for the sake of this discussion we will cover the big three:
Hollow tubular structures of various materials such as steel, cast iron, HDPE, and others that are used to move fluids, gases, small solids, and more. Often, you’ll hear pipes referred to as tubes and vice-versa but there are subtle differences that you must be aware of. Pipes are round but tubes come in all kinds of shapes. Tubes usually are cut with a flat edge, where pipes have a bevel cut so that they can mount to fittings easier. One of the most important differences: pipes are pressure rated and tested whereas tubes are not.
These are mechanical components that are used to control, direct, or regulate the pressure and flow of a substance running through pipes. Valves work by opening, closing, or partially obstructing the flow of substances running through pipes. They come in several variations, some are customized for specific applications.
These “joiners” can connect sections of pipe to extend or alter the direction of the pipe. They are also used to transition pipes to different sizes and shapes as well as to measure flow.
Variations Of PVF
PVF while covering more than pipes, valves, and fittings also vary quite a bit in materials and application. Depending on what they’re being used for, PVF is made from various metal and non-metal materials. The selection of material, as well as the size and performance rating, depend on application-specific parameters. Things such as substance being moved, pressure, temperature, and rate of flow. Usually, the fittings and pipe are made of the same material for consistent performance.
Pipe is available in many different sizes, shapes, and materials. The type you choose is again, based on the application and the conditions it’s being used in.
The most common type of pipe we sell include:
- Steel: Popular due to their strength and how well they fare in underground installations for various substances.
- Galvanized Steel: These are steel pipes that are coated with zinc to add corrosion resistance and lifespan—up to 100 years. Often used underground and construction due to their durability.
- Stainless Steel: This variation of steel is used in applications that require solid sanitation qualities such as food service and medical. A304 is the most common variant of stainless.
- Cast Iron: These pipes are most often found in municipal water distribution systems. These are the heaviest pipes in PVF and are mainly used underground.
- Copper: Copper pipes are some of the most expensive pipes and is mostly used for smaller applications. Applications such as water supply and coolant lines benefit from copper due to its corrosion and temperature resistance. There’s soft copper and rigid copper with soft being flexible for use in applications such as coolant lines. Rigid is mainly used in residential and commercial water supply lines.
- Aluminum: Versatile pipes that come in different forms allow for combinations, all with excellent corrosion resistance, they are used in a very wide range of industries.
- Plastic: Plastic pipe is also used in a wide variety of industries and applications and is available in several types of plastic. Plastic variations include HDPE—used in newer water distribution systems as water mains. PVC—used in residential and commercial plumbing. ABS—commonly found in the oil and gas industry.
Valves, like anything else in the PVF industry, are needed in various sizes, pressure ratings, and styles to function as needed. Valve style is dependent on application needs and function. Choosing the proper valves is critical to any piping system no matter your industry. Some common valve types we sell include:
- Ball Valves: One-way setup that opens and closes using pressure on a ball that is fit tightly into a cup-shaped channel.
- Butterfly Valves: Can be used to both isolate and regulate flow.
- Check Valves: Prevents backflow of whatever substance you’re moving.
- Diaphragm Valves: Controls flow with a full stop/full start flow operation.
- Float Valves: Basic mechanical controller used to maintain fluid level.
- Gate Valves: Used to shut off the flow of liquids rather than for flow regulation.
- Globe Valves: Used for flow regulation in a pipeline.
- Needle Valves: Used for precision flow control.
- Pressure Relief Valves: A valve that functions as a safety mechanism that limits pressure build-up in a system.
The materials used for pipe fittings will vary based on the system they’re used in and the conditions. Usually, fittings are made out of the same material as the pipes they connect. Common materials that fittings are made from include PVC, aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, copper, ABS, and brass, to name a few. Common fitting types and their uses include:
- Elbows: These make angled turns to change what direction a fluid flows.
- Tees & Crosses: These are used for branch connectors as well as for changing flow direction.
- Plugs & Caps: Not used for flow, only used for exactly what it sounds like—capping or plugging open ends of a pipe.
- Couplings: Usually used for connecting same sized pipes in a straight line, often to extend the pipe further.
- Nipples: Used for extremely close connections, they’re essentially tiny pipe segments that are threaded on both ends.
- Unions: Another one that does what the name describes. It unifies the ends of two pipes so that it’s easier to disassemble.
- Ferrules: These allow you to bind a part of a pipe to another.
How Does It All Come Together?
When you combine all the components that encompass the world of PVF they create what is known as a piping system. Piping systems are basically just a series of pipes, valves, and fittings that form a network to move substances from point A to point B.
These systems are a critical part of every industry that we encounter every day. They help move everything from gas from refineries to water from main reservoirs for a city water system.
TPC Has Everything PVF You Could Possibly Need
When you need a reliable supplier that has the most variety and fully-stocked inventory—call TPC. We have the parts you need, ready to ship for fast delivery. Contact us today and let us know what we can do for you.