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Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)


from 5/25/2012

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“Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that finds numerous applications. The most well known brand name of PTFE is Teflon by DuPont Co.

PTFE is a fluorocarbon solid, as it is a high-molecular-weight compound consisting wholly of carbon and fluorine. PTFE is hydrophobic: neither water nor water-containing substances wet PTFE, as fluorocarbons demonstrate mitigated London dispersion forces due to the high electronegativity of fluorine. PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid.

PTFE is used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. It is very non-reactive, partly because of the strength of carbon–fluorine bonds, and so it is often used in containers and pipework for reactive and corrosive chemicals. Where used as a lubricant, PTFE reduces friction, wear, and energy consumption of machinery.

It is commonly believed that Teflon, like velcro, is a spin-off product from the NASA space projects. However, that is not so, even though both products have been used by NASA.[1]

PTFE is often used to coat non-stick frying pans as it is hydrophobic and possesses fairly high heat resistance.

PTFE is a thermoplastic polymer, which is a white solid at room temperature, with a density of about 2.2 g/cm3. According to DuPont, its melting point is 327 °C (621 °F), but its mechanical properties degrade above 260 °C (500 °F).[9] PTFE gains its properties from the aggregate effect of carbon-fluorine bonds, as do all fluorocarbons.

The coefficient of friction of plastics is usually measured against polished steel.[13] PTFE's coefficient of friction is 0.05 to 0.10,[9] which is the third-lowest of any known solid material (BAM being the first, with a coefficient of friction of 0.02; diamond-like carbon being second-lowest at 0.05). PTFE's resistance to van der Waals forces means that it is the only known surface to which a gecko cannot stick.[14]

PTFE has excellent dielectric properties. This is especially true at high radio frequencies, making it suitable for use as an insulator in cables and connector assemblies and as a material for printed circuit boards used at microwave frequencies. Combined with its high melting temperature, this makes it the material of choice as a high-performance substitute for the weaker and lower melting point polyethylene that is commonly used in low-cost applications.

Because of its chemical inertness, PTFE cannot be cross-linked like an elastomer. Therefore, it has no "memory" and is subject to creep. This is advantageous when used as a seal, because the material creeps a small amount to conform to the mating surface. However, to keep the seal from creeping too much, fillers are used, which can also improve wear resistance and reduce friction. Sometimes, metal springs apply continuous force to PTFE seals to give good contact, while permitting a beneficially low percentage of creep.

(Wikipedia, PTFE, 5/12/2012)


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Roger D. Corneliussen

Maro Polymer Links
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Copyright 2012 by Roger D. Corneliussen.
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* Date of latest addition; date of first entry is 5/25/2012.