Pipe and the materials transported through it keep our society moving, day in and day out – but taking a look at the history of pipe gives insight into how the technology has evolved over millennia to become what we’re most familiar with today. From ancient methods of water transportation to modern materials and mechanics, here’s a look back at the history of pipe.
The Earliest Pipe
Early pipe systems date back to 2500 B.C., when the Macedonians constructed brick-lined pits like modern-day septic systems. Plumbing reached an early high with the sophisticated systems built by the Romans, who had indoor toilets, running water and efficient waste disposal through expansive systems of aqueducts, tile wastewater removal and lead pipe that mostly relied on gravity. Their innovation set the bar for the rest of the world.
Pipe and the Western World
In Boston in 1652, the first waterworks was made using hollowed-out logs as pipe. In fact, redwood was often used as pipe in the western United States because of its properties that protected it from erosion, weathering and insects. Modern galvanized pipe started to appear in the 1800s as urbanization created higher demand for sanitation, and as production efficiency increased, steel pipe prices decreased. The Bessemer process for the mass production of steel in the 1850s caused pipe manufacturing to grow exponentially. Cast iron was also a popular material used in sewer lines, but due to its susceptibility to corrosion, cast iron pipe lined with cement was widely used.
In the mid-20th century, ductile iron pipe was introduced as an improvement on cast iron. Concrete pipe was also a popular choice and is still being installed today in storm sewer lines and water mains. Steel is still one of the most commonly used pipe materials, but the introduction of plastic pipes such as PVC, ABS and PEX pipe in the 1950s and ‘60s led to more options for both manufacturing and use. Today, each of these pipe materials can be found in use somewhere in the United States, and all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
All-Tex Pipe & Supply proudly carries a wide range of carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, cast iron and plastic pipe to serve your needs. Contact us today, and we can help you find the best material to fit your project.