A few years ago, a British company called Precision plumbing used to sell plumbing products that were designed to work on a particular type of steel called Tungsten.
Now the company has changed its name to Props.
“The focus is now on the copper,” says the company’s president, Tim Condon.
“We’re focussing on a wider range of products.”
But it’s the Tungstern steel that’s now attracting attention, and not just because it’s considered a safe material for use in pipes.
“This is one of the most difficult metals to work with,” says Mr Condon, who also runs a plumbing service company.
“If you have a leak, you can’t get the water out of it.
It’s really tough to clean.”
Props has had to change its product line from Tungsta to Tungtern because it has become too expensive.
It sells copper-plated plumbing fittings, which are intended to work in a wide range of pipes and fittings.
The copper, which is less brittle than TungSTA, is used in a range of applications including plumbing pipes, sprinkler systems, air conditioners and refrigerators.
“Our customers have been asking for our plumbing products to work over the last few years,” says Condon with a smile.
“So it’s just been an exciting time.”
Tungstonen is one-third the weight of ordinary Tungsteel and can withstand up to 80,000 times the pressures experienced by ordinary steel pipes.
But the copper itself is incredibly tough and resists corrosion at temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius.
“For many of the materials in plumbing, you have to go down to a very high temperature to get the corrosion to stop,” says James O’Connell from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
But because the Tullsten is harder than TsungSTA and the hardness of the material means it’s not a perfect fit for plumbing applications, it’s a material that can get brittle at high temperatures.
Tung-tarnen also comes with a risk.
“It’s hard to keep a leak clean,” says O’Brien.
“You need to keep it clean because it can corrode.
And it also can break at high pressure and cause a leak.”
While the T-tungsten is relatively simple to work, its hardness makes it difficult to repair plumbing leaks, which could lead to more expensive repairs.
But that hasn’t deterred the company.
It still has customers around the world and the company now makes fittings for several countries.
Mr Coudens has had customers in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
He says it’s been a good business.
“I think it’s changed the whole world,” he says.
“There’s more and more demand for plumbing fittements and we’ve done a good job with that.”
Mr Courns is not alone in his enthusiasm for the new Tungstromen product line.
“People are finding out about Tungstanen,” says Kevin O’Connor from the University of Melbourne.
“And we’re all trying to understand what’s going on in the pipes.”
The future of the Taunsten Mr Caudens is optimistic that his new Taunstanen products will be used more widely, particularly in areas like air conditioning, which he says is a big market.
“Air conditioning is a really, really expensive industry and it’s getting more expensive and more complex with technology, and I think Taunstern will be a big help,” he explains.
But it might be more of a question of whether Taunstonen can become a new standard in the plumbing industry.
“Tungstanens are an older, older material that is very brittle and if you have an air conditioner leak, it can get worse quickly,” says Taunstranin’s O’Cullen.
“But in the future, Tungster will be able to be a replacement for TungSta for many applications.”