Basics 101: Fluoropolymers
Teflon®, chemically known as Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE for short, was the first fluoropolymer introduced. It was discovered by accident in 1938 when DuPont chemist Dr. Roy Plunket, who was working with fluorocarbon refrigerant gasses, opened the valve to one gas cylinder, and no gas came out of the valve. The cylinder, when cut open, was filled with a white waxy solid that did not melt and did not dissolve – this was PTFE.
Today, PTFE is sold in three different forms that allow fabricators to make parts even though it is not melt processable: granular, fine powder, and dispersion. Fine powder combined with a lubricant liquid into a paste is the most common processing format used in the medical industry.
While PTFE is probably the most well-known fluoropolymer don't forget about these other materials. Each one has its own characteristics that make it desirable for certain applications but the quick overview of features and benefits below can help you decide if a fluoropolymer is the direction to go.
Types of Fluoropolymers
- PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)
- PFA (perfluoroalkoxy alkane)
- FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene)
- ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene)
- PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride)
- ECTFE (ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene)