Valve Tags - How to choose

Valve tags are used extensively in both domestic and industrial environments to mark either the number of a valve, or its function. While these tags are seldom handled, they need to be durable, and in some cases, be able to tolerate extreme temperatures and/or corrosive substances.

The material chosen is therefore determined by environmental factors, as well as the tag's function or purpose.

Valve tags are made of many different materials, but these fall into two main categories:-

  • Metal Valve Tags
  • Plastic Valve Tags

Metal Valve Tags

Four main metal types are common for metal valve tags.

1. Brass Valve Tags

Brass is popular because it has high corrosion resistance, will not rust, and because it has natural anti-microbial properties. It can also withstand temperature extremes. Brass tags are ideal for use in environments where hygiene is a factor, and where the environment may be damp or have high humidity.

Domestic bathroom and kitchen plumbing, as well as public toilets and restrooms are good uses for brass valve tags, and are a good alternative to stainless steel, which can be more expensive.


2. Aluminium Valve Tags

Aluminium is light-weight, but very durable. It can naturally oxidise, but generally this leaves a thin, dull sheen on the surface of the tag. Aluminium Valve Tags are resistant to many corrosive materials, but not to strong acids and alkalis.

Anodised Aluminium Valve Tags are more durable, and have the advantage of being dyed different colours.

Aluminium Valve Tags are generally the cheapest of the metal tags and are used in large plumbing installations where a significant number of tags may be needed.


3. Copper Valve Tags

Copper is increasingly popular for Valve Tags as it (like brass) naturally anti-microbial. Copper does tend to dull and tarnish more rapidly than brass, and is also more expensive.


4. Stainless Steel Valve Tags

Stainless Steel is the preferred choice for Valve Tags where the environmental conditions are extreme - such as high temperature differentials, high corrosion potential, immersion in fluids, or significant hygiene factors where the ability to keep equipment clean is essential.

Steel is more difficult to engrave, and this adds to the price of these tags.

Plastic Valve Tags

By far the most popular plastic for plastic valve tags is a rigid, multi-ply material called traffolyte. These tags consist of three to five layers of plastic, bonded together. The outer layers (back and front) of the tag are different in coloujr from the core layer.

Numbers and text are revealed when a router engraver carves through the surface layer to reveal the core layer.

Many cheap plastic valve tags are made from more flexible laminate plastic, often with very thin surface colours. They are popular with companies who specialise in laser engraving, as the ultra-thin surface layer can be more easily "burned away" by a laser beam.

They are therefore not as durable as traffolyte tags that are router engraved. These tags are more prone to scratching and it is common for the thin coloured surface to be worn away.

In general, we do not recommend laser-engraved valve tags, unless they are used in relatively "neutral" and environmentally stable areas. As they scratch easily, they should not be attached to components that are likely to cause the tag to bump or rub against any objects.

Traffolyte valve tags arte available in a wide variety of colour combinations, but the most popular are black, dark blue, red, green, yellow and white.

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