PTFE vs. Teflon™: What Are the Differences?
The world of plastics and polymers is full of jargon and acronyms, making it difficult to understand certain things. One of such questions that makes people scratch their heads is the difference between PTFE and Teflon™. Essentially, the only difference is the name. PTFE is the abbreviation of polytetrafluoroethylene, and Teflon™ is the trade name of the same polymer.
What is PTFE? –
To understand the difference between what is PTFE vs. Teflon exactly, we need to take a closer look at PTFE material. Polytetrafluoroethylene is a high-performance fluoropolymer made from two elements – carbon and fluorine. PTFE is a linear polymer of tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) and is manufactured by the free radical polymerization process in an aqueous media with the addition polymerization of TFE in a batch process.
PTFE has a wide range of useful properties, making it suitable for many applications. The most common applications of nonstick coating in kitchen cookware, stain resistance in carets and fabrics. It is also extensively used in industries like oil & gas, chemical processing, electrical/electronics, construction, etc.
Below are some of the typical properties of PTFE:
- High flexibility
- Excellent anti-adhesion properties
- Great resistance to heat and low temperature
- Good fatigue resistance under low stress
- Excellent chemical resistance
- Low dissipation factor
- Acceptable resistance is light, UV, and weathering
- Low water absorption
- Decent electrical insulating capabilities in wet environments
- Low coefficient of friction
|Tensile Modulus (MPa)||550|
|Elongation at Break (%)||300-550|
|Melting Temperature (°C)||317-337|
|Dielectric strength (kV/mm)||19.7|
|Surface Energy (Dynes/g)||18|
|Dynamic Coefficient of Friction||0.04|
|Appl. Temperature (°C)||260|
The specialty of Fluorinated thermoplastics is that they can be used in applications related to high heat, chemical inertness, high purity, low temperature, non-sticking, and self-lubricating properties. The applications can be seen in automotive, chemical, medical, industrial, and electrical, and electronics.
It is a high-performance substitute for materials like polyethylene which has applications for low-end electrical components, but not suitable in high-end components, however, PTFF, thanks to its excellent dielectric properties and high melting temperature is ideal for such applications.
Automotive Applications – Shaft seals, value stem seals, fuel hose linings, O-rings, gaskets, power steering ad transmission, etc.
Chemical Industry – Diaphragms, impellers, tanks, pumps, coating for heat exchangers, reaction vessels, autoclaves, containers, etc.
Medical Industry – Ligamnet replacements, heart patches, cardiovascular grafts, etc.
Industrial Applications – Bearings, non-stick surfaces, gears, slide plates, valves, and pumps, fittings, seats & plugs, etc.
Electrical & Electronics Applications – semi-conductor parts, electrical insulation, flexible printed circuit boards, hook-up wires, coaxial cables.
What is Teflon™?
As said earlier, it is a trademarked version of Polytetrafluoroethylene. Teflon™ is discovered in 1938 by scientist Dr. Roy Plunkett when he was working on developing a new refrigerant. Later it was developed by Dupont Co. and administrated by Chemours in 1945, and begin selling products made from it in 1946.
The discovery of Teflon was an accident. Der. Rot Plunkett was trying to invent a new refrigerant when he noticed that TFE gs has flowed out of the bottle he was using, but there was no change in the bottles’ weight. To find the reason for that happening, he looked into it and found out that the bottle’s interior was coated with a waxy and stiffy material that is now known as Teflon.
What’s the Difference Between Teflon™ and PTFE?
Simply put, there is no difference between them. So, the winner of PTFE vs. Teflon™ is nothing. There is no reason to compare both; they’re both, in fact, the same thing. Regardless of that fact, we need to cheer the existence of such an incredibly versatile plastic material.
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- What are the advantages and disadvantages of PTFE?
- PTFE works excellently in dry and oil-free environments.
- Very high lubricity and inert to most caustic fluids.
- It’s an excellent electrical insulator, thus, used extensively in printed circuit boards and electrical cables.
- It cannot be cemented
- The price of the polymer is high, which can be an issue for small and medium-sized businesses.
- It cannot resist extremely high temperatures and melts at 320-350 °C.
- Why is PTFE so expensive?
Ans. The polymer is considered expensive because of its high melting temperature – 320-350 °C. It’s way above the initial decomposition temperature of 200 °C. Even the molten form of the polymer doesn’t flow due to its extremely high viscosity.
- Do face masks have PTFE in them?
Ans. PTFE is used in some masks, but the overall usage value is meager. Polypropylene is the most used material in medical face masks, and N95 respirator masks.
- Does Teflon contains carcinogens?
Ans. Yes, it contains a carcinogen called PFOA, and that’s why the polymer doesn’t have many applications food & beverages market.
- Does silicone stick to Teflon?
Ans. Silicone is a challenging material to stick to surfaces. It always needs an additional treatment to stick to surfaces, and the same goes with Teflon. Thus it is used in non-stick coating applications.
Final Thoughts –
That was my take on PTFE vs. Teflon. The polymer can become a beneficial material for a manufacturer due to its suitable properties and applications. Having said that, there shouldn’t be any confusion about the difference between PTFE and Teflon. They’re both the same materials, just with a different name.
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Have a fantastic day:)