Premier Control Technologies Logo
Premier Control Technologies Fluid Solutions

A 14-step guide to choosing the best peristaltic pump tubing for your application

Monday, August 22, 2022

Selecting the right peristaltic pump tubing can be a challenging task but we are here to make it easy. Just contact us and we will do the heavy lifting for you. As an independent distributor we have access to multiple peristaltic pump tubing suppliers rather than being one and can select the optimal solution for your application. Peristaltic pump consultation is completely free of charge.

If you would prefer to learn more about the tube selection process for peristaltic pumps and select the tubing yourself read on.

Peristaltic pump tubing selection can look like a simple task at first glance, but it can get complex quickly.

Prior to considering Pump Tubing, ensure your peristaltic pump is the right pump type for your application

Quick check list below:

  1. Peristaltic pumps can work up to 16bar, but most pumps will have an upper limit of around 2bar.
  2. The flow rate will need to be below 100 000 l/hour, but most pumps are in the 15 l/min bracket.
  3. Peristaltic pumps are great at handling viscous, corrosive, shear-sensitive, abrasive substances and fluids containing suspended solids.
  4. Most importantly the pumped substance will remain in the tubing and will not come in to contact with any mechanical parts. If “aseptic”/ hygiene fluid transfer / filling is a requirement a peristaltic pump is your answer.
  5. Peristaltic pumps are great for metering, dosing and dispensing applications. They are easy to install, simple to operate and inexpensive to maintain in most cases.
  6. If you are looking for a dispensing accuracy higher than 5% it is worth checking the accuracy with the supplier to avoid disappointment. We are going to provide an entirely separate article devoted to the subject.
  7. Yes, there will be some flow pulsation, but it can be mitigated to a certain extent and in some applications it is desirable.
  8. If the substance you are pumping is above 90 °C a peristaltic pump might not be a solution for you. More on this later.
  9. Peristaltic pumps are self-priming and self-sealing against backflow. Which makes them a perfect choice for water sampling.

The above are quick checks, we are going to have a separate article soon on how to make the correct peristaltic pump selection.

14-Step Guide to choosing the perfect peristaltic pump tubing

The guide below assumes the customer, or the supplier has selected the peristaltic pump drive and pump head correctly.

1 - Selecting the correct tubing material

Chemical compatibility table/chart can be used to determine if the substance pumped is compatible with the peristaltic tube material. Make sure the table/chart has been created specifically for peristaltic pumps. If the material is subjected to physical stress (like it is in a peristaltic pump) it may develop different properties when it is used for transferring fluid (transfer tubing).

A significant number of substances cannot be found in the chemical compatibility tables/charts, so a submersible test is the best course of practice.

Part of the tubing needs to be cut and submerged in the pumped substance(s) for a prolonged period of time (48 hours minimum). This is done to see if there are any changes to the tubing. Discoloration, swelling, embrittlement, etc. they all indicate a “chemical attack” and different tubing material has to be selected for the application.

Contact us, we offer submersible tests to save you time.

2 - Consider the temperature of the substance pumped

This parameter could be critical for a number of reasons. Chemical compatibility can change with temperature. Something that is harmless to the peristaltic pump tubing at room temperature can suddenly become harmful at an elevated temperature. Peristaltic pump tubing materials usually don’t perform well at higher (+90 °C) temperatures and have an upper operational limit.

3 - The system pressure will affect your tubing selection

Peristaltic pumps do not like high discharge/back pressure. Anything that can be done to bring the pressure down in the system should be done. The back pressure significantly reduces tube life and if it is too high it can force the peristaltic tube to burst and spill pumped substance. This in return can pose a hazard to people and equipment. A pressure relief valve could be a solution to prevent this from happening. Some tubing materials handle back pressure better than others.

Selecting the right tubing dimensions could mitigate the problem. Increased wall thickness, smaller bore etc. will enable the tubing and by extension the pump, to handle higher pressure.

Contact us to find optimal tubing for higher pressure applications.

4 - Choose the correct bore size and wall thickness for your pump head

Too often the tubing dimensions are selected incorrectly for the pump head type. With so many pump head types available from different companies, that often look very similar. It is easy for the user to select tubing with the wrong dimensions – an incorrect bore size or the wrong wall thickness. Wall thickness is one of most important peristaltic pump tubing parameters. Too large and it will damage the pump head and reduce the tube life or the pump simply will not work; too small and the pump will not work or will underperform.

5 - Your systems tolerance will affect your tubing decision

This parameter becomes very important when trying to achieve accurate dispensing. A higher tolerance will result in more accurate dispensing and will be more repeatable. That is why some manufacturers have a sperate tubing range for dispensing applications. Tolerance can be deceiving – the ID and OD can be within tolerance, but the ID can be misaligned with the OD and the peristaltic pump will underperform.

6 - Peristaltic pump tubing life expectancy

A pump tubing with a long life reduces the total cost of pump ownership but it is a fine balance. The often-asked question is: how long the tubing is going to last? This can be estimated but in most cases there are just too many variables effecting the tubes life to give the customer a definitive answer.

Most manufactures will have estimated values and this can help with preventive maintenance. Nothing is more reliable than a test at the end of the day. Contact us, we can run tests for you using test rigs to estimate the tubes life.

7 - Consider if you need your pump tubing to be transparent

Transparency can be of particular importance if the operators need to see what is happening inside the tubing or of equal importance, if the fluid is sensitive to light.

8 - Gas permeability of peristaltic pump tubing

If the substance pumped is sensitive to oxidation or the user wants to protect anaerobic cell cultures being pumped, thermoplastic material should be used over silicon which is generally more permeable to gas.

9 - Certification, Regulatory Approval and validation packs

If the tubing comes into contact with substances that are used in food production or in pharmaceutical procedures it is of the upmost importance to use tubing that meets regulatory guidelines to avoid product contamination.

This can and is country specific.

United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), European Pharmacopoeia (EP), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) etc.

Users should always request certification and validation packs for tubing.

10 - How much will peristaltic pump tubing cost

Our tubing starts as low as 2 GBP (2.5USD) per meter and can cost as much as 1000+ GBP per few centimetres. Finding the optimal solution is not easy. Inexpensive tubing may have to be replaced regularly, which can be an expensive process depending on the labour cost, if that tubing bursts the damage to equipment can be expensive but in some applications, it can be an optimal choice.

Contact us and we can assist you in finding the most cost-effective solution for you.

11 - Consider your flow rate drop off - system recalibration may be needed

The tubing flow rate will drop off with time. Depending on the system set up, recalibration may be necessary. Different peristaltic pump tubing materials will have different drop off.

We can assist you in finding out more about the expected flow drop off of your chosen pump.

12 - Peristaltic pump tubing - leachables and extractables

Peristaltic tubing is usually part of a long production chain. For some applications it is mandatory to conduct extractable and leachable studies.

Extractables: Organic and inorganic chemical species that can be released from the surfaces of components used in the manufacture and storage of drug products under laboratory conditions (accelerated or exaggerated temperatures, solvents or surface exposure).

Leachables: Organic and inorganic chemical species that can be released from the surfaces of components used in the manufacture and storage of drug products under conditions of normal use.

If you need help here, we can assist you in finding companies that help to do these studies for you.

13 - Organoleptic properties of peristaltic pump tubing and food products

Organoleptic properties are the aspects of food, water or other substances that create an individual experience via the senses—including taste, sight, smell, and touch.

Tubing can have all the above properties and the necessary certification but in the case of food products the tubing can affect the taste of the pumped product. It is important to ensure that this is not the case.

14 - Finally, Useful tips on connecting the peristaltic pump tubing to the installation

  1. Ensure suction and delivery pipe bores are equal to or larger than the bore of the tube in the pump-head.
  2. When pumping very viscous fluids ensure the tubing connected to the inlet and outlet of the peristaltic pumps has a bore that is several times larger than the peristaltic pump tube being used.
  3. Ensure 1m or more of flexible tubing is connected to the inlet and discharge port of the pump head, to help to minimise impulse losses and pulsation in pipework. This becomes critical when pumping with viscous substances and when connecting to installations consisting of many rigid elements.
  4. Choose low pump speeds when pumping viscous fluids. Small bore tubing will generate a high friction loss, and in turn reduce the flow. Tubing with a larger bore may not have sufficient strength to reconstitute fully. Flooded suction will improve pump performance.
  5. As rule of thumb, where possible:
    • To maximise tube life use a large-bore tube and run it at low speed
    • For maximum flow rate use the largest tube bore available for the pump-head and run it at maximum speed
    • For maximum accuracy use a small-bore tube at high speed

Please note final responsibility lies with the end user. Careful selection and validation are critical to prevent pump damage and protect people and the equipment.

Related article

How To Choose the Correct Peristaltic Pump in Four Steps