Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and other fluoropolymer tubing products are commonly used in the steel and chemical processing industries, primarily for transporting chemicals, many of which are extremely corrosive.
You may recognize PTFE in its more common application: on non-stick cooking pans and other kitchenware. However, it is also highly valued in manufacturing applications. PTFE tubing has become increasingly popular, over carbon and other metal piping, due to its highly non-corrosive properties.
Some of the basic properties and beneficial features of PTFE include:
1. Chemical Resistance
Due to its properties, PTFE is highly chemical resistant, which makes it an excellent candidate for a variety of manufacturing projects. PTFE is inert to the following chemicals:
- Aqua Regia
- Biological Fluids
- Hydrofluoric Acid
- Fuming Sulfuric Acid
- Chlorosulfuric Acid
- Highly Halogenated Organics
- Printing Inks & Dyes
- Boiling Sodium Hydroxide Solution
- Aromatic Solvents
- Low Level Radioactive Substances
- Chlorine Gas Amines
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Industrial Oils
- Acid Chlorides
- Hot, Fuming Nitric Acid
There are, however, a few chemicals which will cause PTFE to deteriorate over time. These include: chlorine trifluoride, molten alkali metals and their solutions, and gaseous fluorine at extremely high temperatures and/or pressures.
2. Water Resistance
PTFE is naturally hydrophobic, which means that there is an absence of attraction to water. Therefore, it doesn’t absorb water like many solid materials do. Instead, it appears to repel it, which makes it a great material for use where water exposure is likely.
3. High Heat Resistance and Low Temperature Resistance
PTFE tubing is a great solution for applications where extremely high or low temperatures are present, with the ability to withstand temperatures as high as 260°C (500°F), and as low as -270°C (-454°F).
4. Great Insulator
PTFE materials are also ideal for insulation, offering a surface resistivity level of 3.6 x 1012 ohms. It also contains excellent electrical properties, due to the fact that they maintain a dielectric constant of precisely 2.1 from -40 degrees F to 480 degrees F. Because of this, it is often used in electronics and electrical service.
5. UV Radiation Resistance
PTFE has a radiation resistance threshold of 2 – 7 x 104 rads (a deprecated unit of absorbed radiation dose, defined as 1 rad = 0.01 Gy =0.01 J/kg.) Its resistance increases x 10 in the absence of oxygen.
6. Low Coefficient of Friction
PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction (COH) among solid materials, with a static COH of .08. The coefficient of friction is “A measure of the amount of resistance that a surface exerts on or substances moving over it, equal to the ratio between the maximal frictional force that the surface exerts and the force pushing the object toward the surface.” This makes PTFE an excellent material for ensuring the consistent flow of liquids transportation.
PTFE can be used in a variety of industries, and for various applications. It can be welded or bent to fit a particular space or shape. Due to its natural insulating properties, it is often used in insulation cables and connector assemblies.
It is most often seen in the following industries: aerospace and transportation technology, electronics, chemical & pharmaceutical manufacturing, food processing, environmental sciences, fluid transfer devices and water processing systems, to name a few.