How It’s Made: Dripline
Landscape Products likens how the company makes its pressure-compensating dripline to a favorite family recipe—other recipes may look the same, but they’re never quite as good.
The company believes it has perfected its “recipe” for a durable and functional pressure-compensating (PC) dripline.
Based just outside of Phoenix in Tolleson, Ariz., Landscape Products has been supplying drip/micro irrigation products, valves, sprinklers, and other landscape and agriculture products since 1978.
The company began manufacturing its PC dripline in 2009, said Fermin Perez, sales and marketing manager for Landscape Products.
PC dripline has been growing in popularity for its easy installation and water conserving capabilities compared to other irrigation options. It’s typically used above ground or under mulch, often to irrigate hedges and groundcover on commercial landscapes and large gardens.
The pressure-compensating emitters, integrated into the dripline, adjust to varying water pressures ensuring a consistent flow rate (Landscape Products offers 0.6 or 0.9 GPH PC emitters).
Despite the simplicity that PC dripline provides in landscapes, manufacturing the product is a complex process that Landscape Products has aimed to perfect.
The company produces thousands of feet per day of their 17-millimeter PC dripline. Like Landscape Products’ other dripline products, the process begins with a high-grade linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) resin, in the form of small, colorless beads or pellets.
“It’s the best there is for the application,” said Jose Flores, plant manager.
While other dripline manufacturers may use recycled plastics in their products, Landscape Products uses only virgin resin for a longer lasting product. Recycled plastics can introduce impurities into the tubing, causing weak spots and possible bursting, said Flores.
“That way our customers get fewer headaches,” Flores said.
The poly pellets are melted and mixed with a color concentrate and UV inhibitor, which protects the material from breaking down over time. The mix is filtered through a fine mesh screen to remove any other potential impurities.
Next, the mixture is pushed through an extruder machine, shaping the resin into a tube, which is formed around the emitters that are spaced every 12 or 18 inches in the line. The temperature of the resin must be just right to properly bond with the plastic emitter before the tube travels through tanks of water and an air blower to cool and dry.
Once it has cooled, a perforator or drill punches two holes through the tube at each emitter. The dual outlets reduce the possibility of clogging. The emitters are also designed with built in maze-like channels that also help flush sand or other particles out, preventing clogs.
Then an ink-jet printer imprints information on the tube, such as the product description and the date of manufacture.
The dripline is inspected and samples are taken to undergo checks for quality assurance.
One check is performed by cutting a cross section of the dripline and looking for any signs of improper adhesion of the emitter to the tube.
Other samples are also taken throughout the day to test the flow rates at various pressure levels. A section of dripline is connected to an automatic flow tester that records the flow rates. The data is reviewed to ensure the emitters are delivering the right amount of water.
Finally, workers wind the dripline into 100- and 500-foot coils ready to be shipped out to suppliers across the country.
Although most of the process for producing their dripline is highly mechanized, the company’s skilled craftsmen and operators—each with more than a decade of experience in manufacturing and extrusion—are also key to producing a top-quality product.
“From assembly to packaging to shipping, the Landscape Products manufacturing team goes to great lengths to produce and deliver products of the highest caliber. The 17mm dripline manufacturing group takes great pride in delivering nothing but the best,” Perez said.
Landscape Products hopes their recipe for high quality dripline will become a favorite among customers.