(WACO, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program hosted representatives of Sunbelt Marketing Inc.’s Houston distribution center on Thursday, Jan. 26, for a presentation on medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) gas fusion.
Damon Humes, an assistant regional manager at Sunbelt Marketing, said the goal of the presentation was to expose students to a common installation material used in the plumbing industry.
Humes told students that DuPont and Phillips Petroleum were the first to develop MDPE in the 1950s. The first MDPE gas fusion for a natural gas installation was in 1959 in Kansas, Humes said.
Humes said using MDPE is advantageous because it holds up well underground and has flexibility built into it. He said the piping material can also be used in the irrigation, oil and gas, and water industries. He said the piping can be used as a protectant in the electrical field.
Students learned about three joining methods to use with MDPE: butt fusion, electrofusion and socket fusion. Humes concentrated on teaching the students about socket fusion, which involves heating the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting and putting them together to bind them.
Humes said it is important to verify the size of the pipe being used. He said there are industry standards for the heat-up time and cooling time when performing socket fusion. He said the time starts when the fitting and pipe “bottom out.”
Tony Montoya, an instructor in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program, said he hoped students gained knowledge to add to their resume when they apply for plumbing positions.
Fabian Camargo, a second-semester TSTC Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology student from Cumby, said he has seen the socket fusion process done before while working in the field.
While students saw the socket fusion process being done with a small heating unit placed on a flat worktable, Camargo said the experience would be different in the field due to being outdoors.
“Things like that people do not get to do the right way,” Camargo said. “Learn it correctly. Make sure you listen to everything they tell you.”
Sunbelt Marketing is a manufacturers’ representative and master distributor of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R), piping and plumbing products to wholesalers. The company’s corporate headquarters are in Austell, Georgia.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.