Plunger pumps are a type of reciprocating pump that uses a plunger to move fluids in and out of a cylindrical chamber. These pumps are sometimes referred to as high-pressure pumps since they can deliver high pump pressures that are suitable for high-viscosity or liquids with high-solid content.

These pumps are classified as reciprocating because they use a repeating back-and-forth or up-and-down motion to generate the energy required for pumping. A rotational movement, provided by a drive mechanism, gets converted to linear motion which is transferred to the plunger.

On the plunger upstroke, suction is created which draws liquid in through the pump inlet. On the downstroke, the plunger forces liquid through the discharge end of the pump via positive displacement.

Triangle Pump Components, Inc. (TPCI) offers a variety of ceramic and metal-coated plungers for a wide range of applications. Here, we will describe the benefits of both these plunger materials and look at the situations in which each is most suitable.

Ceramic Plunger

Ceramic plungers are manufactured from zirconia oxide, silicon nitride, or alumina oxide ceramic materials. Among the primary benefits of ceramic plungers is their resistance to saltwater, oil, and some chemical solutions. This characteristic makes ceramic plungers ideal for the medical, food and beverage, petrochemical, and specialty chemical industries where there are tight regulations regarding fluid contamination.

Ceramic plungers inherit the hard and wearable nature of their ceramic parent material, making them more durable than metal coated plungers when used in ideal conditions. The relatively low density of this material also makes it lighter and easier to manage, repair, and maintain than metal-coated plungers.

Ceramic plungers also tend to be more efficient due to their seemingly self-lubricating nature. Ceramics have a lower coefficient of friction than metal, resulting in less sliding resistance of the plunger and reduced wear during prolonged operation.

Metal-Coated Plunger

Metal-coated plungers are most commonly used in reciprocating pumps due to their relatively low cost compared to ceramic plungers. Metal-coated plungers are also a highly customizable in terms of material, and most of the standard material options are widely available. Various metal alloy compositions and grades can be used to create plungers specifically suited for different demanding situations.

In terms of mechanical properties, metal coated plungers possess higher strengths than ceramic plungers, allowing them to resist significant amounts of thermal shock, abrasion, vibration, and impact forces. Common alloys used in the construction of metal-coated plungers include Colmonoy, Tungsten Carbide, and Wallex. TPCI can custom manufacture plungers from other metal alloys for unique applications upon customer request.

Metal-coated plungers are used across a broad range of industries in numerous applications. Some sectors in which metal-coated plungers are commonly used include the chemical, marine, mining, nuclear, and oil and gas industries.

 

Ceramic Plunger

Metal-Coated Plunger

Materials:

  • Zirconia oxide
  • Silicon nitride
  • Alumina oxide

Materials:

  • Colmonoy
  • Tungsten carbide
  • Wallex
  • Additional alloys

Resistances:

  • Saltwater
  • Oil
  • Some chemical solutions

Resistances:

  • Thermal shock
  • Abrasion
  • Vibration
  • Impact

Industries:

  • Medical
  • Food & beverage
  • Petrochemical
  • Specialty chemical

Industries:

  • Chemical
  • Marine
  • Mining
  • Nuclear
  • Oil & gas

Features:

  • Low density
  • Lightweight
  • Easier maintenance
  • Durable

Features:

  • Low cost
  • Wide, customizable material range
  • High mechanical strength

Learn More

Both ceramic and metal-coated plungers have specific properties that lend themselves to different situations. It is therefore essential that the right plunger material is selected to ensure that pumps operate safely and efficiently in a given environment.

At TPCI, our inventory includes a multitude of ceramic and metal-coated plungers to meet the demands of almost any customer application. Our plungers are specially designed to meet or exceed some of the strictest industry standards including ASTM.

If you would like to learn more about our ceramic and metal-coated pump plungers, feel free to contact TPCI today.