PTFE – the material
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a fully fluorinated polymer. PTFE is a non-polar polymer and a thermoplastic material. It is not a by-product of space travel, which only started in 1957. The material was already discovered accidentally by the chemist Roy Plunkett in 1938. He was investigating the use of tetrafluoroethylene as a refrigerant for household refrigerators. One morning, instead of the gas he had been using, he found only white granules in the container. The gas had polymerized, forming PTFE.
PTFE has a wide range of remarkable properties: it is resistant to almost all organic and inorganic chemicals and to temperatures between -270°C and +260°C. It also has outstanding anti-adhesive properties, low electrical conductivity, a low friction coefficient and good sliding properties.
The properties of PTFE can be modified using a number of different fillers such as glass, carbon, graphite or bronze The results, depending on the individual filler material, may be higher pressure resistance, lower deformation under load, improved thermal conductivity and/or modified electrical characteristics,
Thanks to its many and varied properties, PTFE is used in a wide range of applications, from linings for expansion joints, piping and columns and, in the medical field, for implants, as well as on insulators in high-voltage systems.