Teflon is a high-performance material capable of withstanding a variety of stress factors, such as continuous temperatures of up to 500 °F and direct contact with highly corrosive chemicals. Thanks to its advantageous mechanical properties, it is suitable for a multitude of applications and is used by various industries, including the medical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors. Furthermore, Teflon has the lowest coefficient of friction of all plastics and remains efficient even in extreme environments.
Unfortunately, although Teflon is a household name, it is often misrepresented. In order to promote the effectiveness of this material, we thought it best to set the record straight.
1. Teflon is the name of a material
Many people believe Teflon is the name of a plastic, so much so that it has almost become synonymous with that material. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. Teflon® is actually a registered trademark, not a material per se. It is one of the best-known brands of the American company DuPont. This linguistic mistake is equivalent to using words such as "Frigidaire" or "fridge" to refer to a refrigerator or "Plexiglass" when discussing acrylic. Teflon® is also known by its scientific name, PTFE, which is short for polytetrafluoroethylene. It is a high-performance polymer from the fluoropolymer family known for its unique properties that set it apart from other thermoplastics.
2. Teflon is a hard material
Contrary to popular belief, PTFE is very flexible. In fact, it is so pliant that it can easily be deformed by hand. It is therefore an easily machinable material, which is ideal when manufacturing parts that require flexibility, such as electrical insulation and cables.
3. All white plastics are Teflon
The world of high-performance polymers can seem quite complex, particularly since a wide variety of resins can be enhanced with additives that modulate some of their basic properties. Since Teflon is white, it is easy to think that all plastics of this colour are made of PTFE. However, many plastics are white when their resin is pure and change colour once compounded. Identifying a plastic can be a challenge, especially if the main criterion used is colour. To make it easier, here is a list of other white plastics:
4. Suitable for all needs
Although PTFE can be an excellent choice for parts and components subjected to extreme environments, it is more often reserved for specialized applications. In many cases, such as common applications, PTFE can be replaced by more affordable solutions. It is therefore essential to evaluate your set of constraints to guide your choice of materials, especially when dealing with high-performance plastics. For highly specialized applications such as those in the medical field, food sector or electronics industry, the use of this advanced polymer is highly justified.