Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)is one of the most revolutionary inventions created. More commonly known by its popular brand name Teflon, it’s incredibly versatile and used across multiple industries, including medical; food and beverage; textile; aircraft; and emerging technologies, such as solar, wind power, electric batteries, and more. 

Here is a bit more useful and interesting information about PTFE tubing that shows why it’s a favored material regardless of industry.

What Is PTFE? 

This is a versatile synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene and a high molecular weight compound that consists of carbon and fluorine. PTFE is hydrophobic, which means it’s impervious to water and any other substance that contains the element. It’s also resistant to heat and friction against solid at a temperature range from -275F to 500F. These qualities make it ideal for thermal sealing, lubrication, coating, insulation, bearings, and slide plates.  

Despite its many uses and versatility, PTFE still has some limitations. It’s sensitive to creep, abrasion, and corrosion. Apart from that, it also has a low resistance to radiation.

A Brief History

Chemist Dr. Roy Plunkett accidentally discovered PTFE while he was working for DuPont. In April 1938, he was attempting to make a new chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant. After leaving a batch of gas overnight, he found it the next morning completely polymerized. This created a slippery and waxy substance in the lining of the pressure bottle with remarkable properties. It worked excellently in extreme temperatures and didn’t dissolve in solvents. This occurred due to the iron in the containeracting as a catalyst. 

Even though he made it by accident, Plunkett saw the potential of the substance and worked to expand its uses. In 1941, Kinetic Chemicals patented this newly discovered fluorinated plastic, and by 1945, they registered the Teflon trademark. 

Applications

PTFE is used across all industries and has many applications, including:

  • Cookware – When people say they have a Teflon pan, this means it’s lined with PTFE. Its slippery properties are perfect for cookware since the food won’t stick to the surface. 
  • Automotive – Car manufacturers use PTFE for several components, both for safety and aesthetics. The best example is the windshield wiper since it’s covered with this material to prevent it from sticking to the glass. 
  • Electrical Wires and Electronics – PTFE can be made into tubing that’s used to encase electrical wires. This provides insulation and protection for the cables. It can also be utilized to create flexible printed circuit boards and semiconductor parts.
  • Medical – In the healthcare field, it plays a large role in suture materials, tissue adhesives, and vascular grafts, along with material for cosmetic implants, dental composites, and contact and intraocular lenses. Outside of general use directly in humans, medical-grade PTFE polymer products are used in various medical devices, largely replacing metal in the industry.

This is just some of the basic information you should know about this favored material, largely due to its adaptability across a multitude of industries. If you’re interested in metric or fractional PTFE tubing for your manufacturing process, look for a trusted PTFE tubing distributor, such as Tef-Cap Industries Inc. They specialize in heat-shrinkable sleeves that meet standard specifications, and they produce custom sizes and shrink ratios for Teflon PTFE, FEP, and PFA tubing.