Polytetrafluorethylene: a plastic of superlatives
Dealing with a high-quality material
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a linear polymer composed of fluorine and hydrocarbon. As a semi-crystalline fluoroplastic with the highest-grade fluorination, PTFE has a molecular structure in which there is an especially strong bond between the carbon and fluorine atoms. The fluorine atoms almost entirely protect the carbon chain. This structure results in a unique combination of useful properties.
Polytetrafluoroethylene is a high-performance plastic and has the greatest resistance to chemicals and the lowest coefficient of friction of all comparable plastics. In addition, polytetrafluoroethylene is stable over a wide temperature range and has an outstanding resistance to heat. Since fluorine is the element with the strongest electronegativity, the polymer PTFE also has excellent dielectric properties. Its high purity and longevity are additional advantages of this remarkable material.
Due to its unparalleled combination of superior performance properties, PTFE has become the most widely used fluoroplastic in many industries, better known under trade names such as Teflon®, Dyneon TM, Fluon® or Gore-Tex®.
PTFE - Outstanding material properties
Some characteristics that distinguish polytetrafluoroethylene as a particularly high-quality polymer have already been mentioned. In addition, this substance has a number of other remarkable properties.
The heat resistance in a temperature range from -200 to +260 degrees Celsius is particularly noteworthy, and PTFE is resistant to temperatures from -200 to +250 degrees Celsius even during continuous operation. The substance remains insoluble even when heated briefly to more than 300 degrees Celsius.
Due to its inertness, polytetrafluoroethylene is insensitive to almost all chemicals. Even aggressive acids cannot harm it. The polymer is also resistant to substances used in the production process, such as alcohol, petrol, oil, etc. PTFE is just as robust against all weather influences (such as frost, UV radiation or moisture). The effects of ozone or oxygen are also harmless to the material.
PTFE does not absorb water; instead, it repels it. It is also insensitive to water vapour. In contact with open fire, the fabric decomposes, and the flames extinguish on their own.
The excellent sliding properties of the material produce a self-lubricating effect. At the same time, the coefficient of friction of polytetrafluoroethylene is extremely low. Since static and sliding friction are of equal magnitude, the transition from standstill to movement runs without any jerk, so that there is no stick-slip effect. The extremely low surface tension means that no other material adheres to polytetrafluoroethylene.
PTFE has extremely low dielectric characteristics combined with high surface and specific contact resistance.
The material is also characterised by high elongation at break and high flexural fatigue strength.
Not to mention: PTFE is physiologically safe, making it perfect for use in the food industry.
The material properties can also be modified for specific requirements by special processes of plastics compounding. If polytetrafluoroethylene is mixed with organic or inorganic substances such as graphite, glass fibres or metal powder, product properties such as hardness, abrasion or compressive strength can be improved further.
PTFE - Universally applicable
Thanks to its outstanding properties, polytetrafluoroethylene meets the highest technical requirements and is suitable for a wide range of applications in a wide variety of industries. As a coating, sealing or sliding material as well as for heavily stressed components and in particularly sensitive production processes, the material has proven itself many times in practice and is now the most frequently used fluoroplastic in the industry.
Industries in which PTFE is used:
- Chemical industry
- Electrical engineering and semiconductor industry
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Medical technology and medical device construction
- Transport and conveyor technology
- Textile industry
- Consumer goods production and
In everyday life we encounter numerous products that owe their special properties to the use of PTFE.
Polytetrafluoroethylene non-stick coatings on pots and pans prevent ingredients from baking during frying and cooking. Lenses coated with polytetrafluoroethylene do not get dirty as quickly and are easier to clean.
By using wafer-thin PTFE films, the textile industry produces breathable, water-repellent fabrics that are marketed under the brand name Gore-Tex®, for example.
Polytetrafluoroethylene is also used in numerous other sectors of industry.
The unique combination of positive usage properties opens up a very wide range of applications for the raw material. Therefore, this material could also be of interest to companies in the future that are not familiar with and do not use it.
PTFE - An alternative material for various production areas
As a special plastic with excellent performance properties, PTFE is already being used successfully in many industries. When it comes to sophisticated system solutions in technical applications, PTFE will probably be chosen even more frequently in the future.
Polytetrafluoroethylene can often be seen as an alternative to materials previously used in industry. Not only in terms of its properties, but also in terms of economy and cost efficiency, this thermoplastic is clearly superior to various conventional materials. Even if the corresponding component or semi-finished product may be a little more expensive to purchase, its longevity makes up for it. In the longer term, the use of PTFE almost always proves to be a more economical alternative. Long service lives guarantee excellent functionality, offer more safety and reduce maintenance costs. Especially in critical applications, the use of this material results in tangible competitive advantages.