Last month, I wrote an article about a plastic channel drain product marketed by NDS under the “Pro Series” brand. This neutral channel product line is manufactured by injection molding. While injection molding is great for making intricate shapes, manufacturing costs associated with injection molding drive product costs up.
There are design and mold costs associated with all formed plastic products. However, extrusion, as a plastic manufacturing method, is well suited for high volume, simple shape production. Being a continuous method, the extrusion process is continuously producing products (more units per hour) and drives down unit of the finished part.
Designed in the cross-section shape of the final product, extrusion dies are less complicated and less expensive to make. When hot plastic is passed through the die in the actual extrusion process, a continuous stream of product is made. Plastic PVC pipe in manufactured by this process.
In the case of plastic channel drain, this “stream” of molded plastic comes out looking like a plastic roof gutter (see photo below).
This article will address extruded plastic channel drains. In part 1, I will discuss common features in pool deck drains manufactured by NDS and Stegmeier. I also discuss the NDS Mini Channel product.
NDS Micro Series vs. Stegmeier Deck Drains
The NDS Micro and Stegmeier deck drains are narrow channel drains designed specifically for swimming pool decks. Generally speaking, these extruded PVC channels are 1.5” wide and 3.25“deep. The channels are used to form a perimeter around a swimming pool to create a drain for incidental pool water. All the products are designed to be installed in concrete. However, channel anchoring techniques during installation differ between the two brands.
Below you can see the NDS Micro Channel (left) compared to Stegmeier’s standard deck drain. Both products are extruded “box” channels. Later, slots are cut into the top surface to form the drain holes. NDS seems to use a small mill to form this slot while Stegmeier appears to use a carbide saw blade. The NDS Micro is actually more narrow (1.25”) than the Stegmeier products (1.625”). The Stegmeier product also has a more rigid feel to it.
NDS offers its Micro Channel pool deck drain in three different colors. That’s it. Stegmeier’s deck drains come in 4 colors and 4 styles. Two of the styles are like the above “box” channel with the integral drain grate. However, they have two other products that have an awesome “press fit” grate that make channel clean out very easy. Stegmeier’s Frontier Deck Drain has plastic “press fit” grates that come in 4 colors. Stegmeier’s Treadmaster Deck Drain has an aluminum grate for the more commercial swimming pool look. These grates come in tan, white and silver. I’m sorry I don’t have photos of these now. In the interim, check out their website www.stegmeier.com.
NDS Mini Channel – The next “size up” in extruded plastic channels is the NDS Mini Channel. This is a unique product that is both economical and sturdy enough to be used in light traffic areas. The 3” wide and 3” deep channel allows for larger water flow than deck drain while giving the home owner a greater selection of grating options. As with deck drains, the Mini channels are connected with couplings and are available with a broad selection of special junction sections.
The highlight of the Mini Channel system is with the grating options. You can select from six colors of plastic slotted “light traffic” grates. These come in 3 foot lengths and can be screwed into place. NDS also offers decorative plastic grates in two patterns and six color options.
If you want a more durable or ornamental product, you can have a slotted brass or cast iron grate. The brass grates are available in polished or brushed finishes and come in one foot lengths. The cast iron grate is available in four patterns (Minione, Interlaken, Carbochon, Locust).