| A new commercially available system stretches and orients PVC pipe with air rather than water, reportedly achieving both higher stretch ratios and larger diameters than previous technologies developed by processors for their own use. The new method was introduced earlier this year by Molecor, a technology development company in Madrid, Spain, which sold its first two OPVC systems this year to customers in Australia and Europe. Molecor’s inline batch process stretches PVC pipe more than 2:1 from 4 in. diam. to 8 in., from 6 to 14 in., and from 12 to 24 in. The largest water-expanded OPVC pipe today can be stretched only up to about 12 in. diam. Operating cost for stretching pipe with tempered air is also less than with water. Molecor’s technology takes a 6-meter-long cut section of pipe, pressurizes it with temperature-controlled air in a mold, closing off the belled end of the pipe, which is trimmed later after orientation. Molecor introduced the new technology at the “Plastics in Underground Pipes 2008” conference in Houston last May, sponsored by Applied Market Information (AMI) in the U.K. It’s the first commercially available OPVC technology, Molecor says. OPVC pipe meeting Class 500 standards, the highest performance level recognized worldwide (retaining tensile strength of 7250 psi after 50 years), is intended to replace iron pipe with the advantage of much lighter weight and extreme chemical resistance.