Electrofusion is an electrical fusion process by which poly pipe and fittings are heated up and welded to each other. The current applied to the fitting is regulated and supplied by an electrofusion welding machine, which controls the amount of voltage, amps and welding time supplied to a fitting, in order for it to weld strongly and permanently. The electrofusion process utilises the inherent weld-ability of poly pipe material without the use of relatively awkward butt fusion welding equipment. This is accomplished by using polyethylene couplings with embedded copper wire coils serving as heating elements. To the left is an image of an electrofusion coupling showing the EF fitting complete with barcode and terminal pins.
Electrofusion permits a safe, methodical and efficient fully welded installation for both buried and above ground poly piping systems. Electrofusion products are separately sealed in PE bags and packaged in cartons to protect them from UV radiation, oxidation as well as general contamination. Additionally they are provided with a bar-coded label that contains all relevant product information, trace-ability and welding parameters required for the joining process. If you need to weld pipes of different wall thicknesses, then electrofusion also is able to achieve this, unlike other welding methods.
Other types of electrofusion couplings are available, such as reducers (or reducing couplings), equal and reducing tees and elbows in both 45 degree and 90 degree, allowing virtually any assembly or manifold to be site-fabricated when exact dimensions are not known. Couplings are available in both high pressure and low pressure applications. To the right is an image of an electrofusion elbow which are available in both 45 and 90 degree, to allow for changes of direction and offsets.
Electrofusion branch saddles and tapping saddles are also available, making the system very adaptable, especially when you're cutting into an existing pipeline. To the left is an image of an EF tapping saddle. The biggest benefit of the electrofusion tapping saddles is the ability of them to be welded into a live pipeline, reducing downtime, or "shut-down" time, and minimising interruption to existing services and clients. (Quick tip: do not cut a hole in the pipe before welding these saddles to the pipe, the weld will not succeed.)
Welding machines are required for welding electro fusion sockets. The transportable welding machine, connected to a power source, provides a current source of the precise voltage and duration, which is applied to the terminals on the socket. This causes the mating surfaces of socket and pipe to be melted to give a fused contiguous whole. The electrofusion process unlike butt fusion can be used to joint pipes and fittings of different wall thickness. The equipment can be supplied with a built in data-recording system to give full traceability of individual welds. Below is an image of an electrofusion welding machine, showing the control box, input and output leads and the barcode scanner.
Poly electrofusion welders vary in size and capacity. The particular welding machine pictured (on the left) is a Ritmo Elektra 315, which welds most electro-fusion brands available on the market but is limited in capacity up to 315mm diameter. There are other sizes available, to suit 1000mm and above if required. Poly electrofusion welding can be operated off both mains power and generator power. We have a company policy of not promoting welding machines that are brand specific, so you can take our guarantee with confidence that our welders will suit most fittings on the market.
We highly recommend that all personnel that will perform electrofusion welding be trained to PIPA standards. Speak to our friendly staff about your electrofusion training requirements.
Below is a demonstration of a large bore electro-fusion weld being performed with a Ritmo Elektra 1000 welding machine in Italy. Please note: recommended installation methods vary from country to country and the methods used in this video are not all endorsed in Australia.
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