Compressed Air Line Piping Material

A discussion of copper, black iron, and PEX/aluminum air line tubing. March 28, 2015

Iím looking for ideas for shop airlines. I had black pipe and due to a shop revamp I had to take a lot of it down. I am going to re-install all the airlines shortly, however my finish supplier said black pipe has oil in it and contaminates the finish room. What is everyone using these days?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
Yep and black pipe also rusts. If you can afford it go with copper.

From contributor S:
PEX tubing is the only way I would go.

From Contributor F:
In our new shop we put in a Kaeser Compressor and used their Smartpipe rigid aluminum piping for the complete shop. It was expensive, but the quality and engineering are absolutely phenomenal. There are many different aluminum piping brands that are similar to the Kaeser system. As was mentioned, stay away from black metal pipe. Using a rigid system gives a much cleaner appearance.

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From contributor C:
We built a new shop two years ago and I used 3/4" PEX for main lines with 1/2" drops. I would do the same again. For the money and ease of installation/re-routing I donít think it can get any easier.

From contributor J:
I used Maxline in my shop a few years ago and itís very good stuff and no leaks.

From the original questioner:
That looks like a beautiful shop Contributor F. I will see if there are any dealers around for the rigid aluminum in my area. The PEX also sounds like a great idea. Do you use the same PEX and fittings that are used for water lines or is it something special?

From contributor L:
You might want to check about PEX reaction with some synthetic compressor oils. A note on distribution design: all drops should come off the top of the main lines. Main lines should have a slope to drains.