Construction engineers are increasingly seeing the advantages that heavy-duty plastic drainage pipes have over conventional pipe systems. Advances in technology mean they’re lighter, more durable and long-lasting.
Steel-reinforced concrete has been used for drainage pipes in Australia for more than a century, but in recent years engineers have recognised the many advantages of a new generation of ultra-strong plastic piping.
Concrete had been the go-to material for stormwater drains, road culverts, and rainwater retention systems due to its strength and long life span, but advances in plastics technology mean polypropylene can now last just as long.
Selected to overcome corrosion issues, water-tight Iplex’s BlackMAX™ polypropylene pipes are one of the most popular premium brands, providing years of corrosion free service. Unlike conventional pipes, they’re resistant to degradation in aggressive ground conditions. Due to their ductile nature, they’re also very tough and resistant to impact on typical construction sites.
“Across a range of industries, from civil and infrastructure to agriculture, mining and gas, plastic pipes and fittings are playing a critical role,” said Iplex Senior Engineer Todd Miklich. “They’re robust and a more sustainable option that’ll provide years of corrosion-free service”
“These types of plastic are tough and don’t biodegrade. They’re engineered polymers designed to have specific molecular structures that make them resistant to chemicals and UV damage,” Miklich said.
“Many construction firms discovered them for the first time when COVID led to massive shortages of concrete — and they haven’t looked back.”
Demand for such products in New Zealand soared after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, because plastic pipes are much less likely to crack if a tremor causes the ground surrounding them to move.
BlackMAX is a highly durable structured wall polypropylene pipe system designed for non-pressurised gravity drainage systems and made from the highest-grade materials to meet all the relevant standards. It can withstand corrosive ground conditions, as well as extremes of the Australian climate.
“The tough, ductile nature of polypropylene means that BlackMAX is less likely to be damaged during transportation or installation,” Miklich said. “It’s also resistant to corrosive chemicals and is unaffected by acid sulphate soils or salt water.”
The pipes are also completely recyclable so, even after 100 years, they can be reprocessed into more pipes. Last year, Iplex was audited by ApprovalMark International and granted a Best Environmental Practice certificate, confirming compliance with the relevant standards.
Iplex will continue to invest in BlackMAX and SewerMAX twin wall technology at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in New South Wales and Queensland. The current size range will be extended to provide a complete package of pipes and fittings for project requirements
“Another advantage it has over concrete is that it’s so much lighter, which means trucks use less energy to transport it,” Miklich said. “It’s also really simple to cut the pipe on site to the required length.”
Iplex has also developed SewerMAX pipes and fittings for gravity sewer applications. The smooth pipe bore means reduced friction, resulting in increased flow capacity and resistance against blockages and the build-up of sediment in drains.
“There are so many reasons why premium plastic pipes are surging in popularity,” Miklich said. “Design engineers want low-maintenance drainage solutions that are cost effective and long-lasting.
“Back in the day, concrete pipes ticked those boxes, but now plastic polypropylene pipes also tick them, and a few more as well.”