Story at a glance:
- Press technology is a method of joining pipe using a specialized tool to create a permanent mechanical connection.
- Viega offers press fitting solutions that make installations on a variety of applications faster, safer, and more durable.
Press technology describes the method of pressing in which pipe is joined with a metal fitting that is crimped onto the tube or pipe with a special tool. The metal to metal connection creates the mechanical connection while the sealing element creates the water and airtight seal.
This capability—which leaders at Viega say is more efficient, safer, and faster than traditional methods—has long existed but now, with the addition of more systems, you can do more than ever before..
“This is fast, reliable, and consistent,” says Colton Henkowski, a Viega technical training consultant who trains contractors, engineers, and wholesale reps through in-person and online workshops. “We want to speed up people’s project timelines because it not only saves money, but with a decreasing workforce and less people doing the jobs, we have to be able to provide solutions to help accomplish more per person, per day.”
Who is Viega?
This quick, safe improvement in pipe joining efficiency is the backbone of Viega—a plumbing and HVAC manufacturer that started in Germany more than 120 years ago. The first established press fitting patent was developed in 1960, and it’s been widely used in Europe since. Viega introduced press technology in America in the late ’90s.
Today Viega delivers not only high-quality press fitting products and service-oriented support staff but also the best education in the industry. Henkowski spends a lot of time training—educating everyone from contractors, apprentices, and engineers to wholesalers and end users. “We can train on every single part of the process,” he says. “Engineers usually want a little bit more knowledge on how durable it is and what codes and specs it meets. Our end users want to know it’s going to hold up in their building.”
Viega has more than 5,000 employees worldwide and continues to be a global market leader in pipefittings.
Why Press Technology?
Press technology allows you to have that same consistent press every single time—reducing liabilities..
“We have an extremely low failure rate. Less than one in a million of our fittings don’t do exactly what they’re supposed to do,” Henkowski says. “If you want to go out and have a job done right the first time, this is probably your best bet.”
A press connection can be made in as few as four seconds on a small pipe and in under 10 seconds on a larger pipe—much faster than welding, brazing, and soldering. The bigger the job, the greater the time savings.
Pressing also doesn’t require open flame, heat, or solder, which makes it safer in tight spaces and when working around flammable materials. The lack of flame eliminates the need for a hot work permit and a fire watch, further saving time and money.
Viega makes fittings in sizes from one-half-inch to four inches as well as hundreds of configurations, including elbows, tees, valves, and more..
How Does It Work?
Pressing fittings require a battery-powered hydrolic tool as well as jaws and rings made specifically for the material. The tools, jaws, and rings are made by a variety of manufacturers. Viega fittings are compatible with major manufacturers’ press tools like RIDGID, Milwaukee, Hilti, DEWALT, and others.
Pressing can be used for nearly every material you’d encounter on a job—including copper, PEX, stainless steel 304 and 316, carbon steel, and black iron. Viega even makes fittings in copper nickel for marine environments and applications.
Depending on the fitting, sealing element, and pipe, pressing is compatible with water, compressed air, natural gas, hydronic heating, fire protection, fuel oil, diesel, hydraulic fluid, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and many other applications.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
There is a misconception that press technology is so easy it “kills the trade.” Press connections still require training on proper installation and need a deep understanding of plumbing applications, design, and code.
“Personally I’ve always thought of myself as more than a tool. I’m not just out there to make a pipe connection. Traditional methods are great skills,” Henkowski says. “People still have to learn and use every connection method—and being a true skilled tradesperson means understanding the systems.”
Viega fittings are backed by industry leading warranties. Anywhere there’s pipe their solutions can be used. ProPress and MegaPress are their flagship products (more about those in a future story), and Viega covers everything from domestic water in a home to deionized water in a plant to biodiesel at an industrial facility.
“There’s a ton of different applications,” Henkowski says. They have about 40 approved applications they list and sell to but have the ability to approve specialized requests, thanks in part to their approved chemical compatibility request form and working with Viega’s technical support and engineering services team.
“We’ve approved over 3,000 applications.” This includes things as specific as helping to provide piping systems with the ability to carry taurine, which goes into energy drinks. “We can really go outside the box to give people what they need, as long as we know what the end goal is.”