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Case study: Chemically etched PTFE billets


We worked with a customer to chemically etch large diameter PTFE billets. Used in the oil and gas industry, the PTFE heat shrinkable billets were a challenge to fully etch as they were big, heavy and difficult to manipulate. Once chemically etched, the fluoroplastic parts were suitable for bonding with most adhesives.

The project: Chemically etching PTFE heat shrinkable billets

We chemically etched the whole surface of PTFE heat shrinkable billets. Used in an oil and gas application, the large diameter heavy wall PTFE billets measured 14cm in diameter, 14cm in length and 0.95cm in wall thickness. The weight and size of the parts to be fully etched proved challenging, as they were difficult to manipulate.

We used special inhouse manufacturing processes to etch all over the PTFE billets. The process for this project was long, as it involved a rest period after the chemical etching process to set the billets. After the etching process was completed, the surface of the fluoropolymer was darkened to a shade of brown (as pictured).

For this project, PTFE was chosen as it withstands the extreme environment of the oil and gas industry. PTFE is resistant to very high working temperatures, chemicals and solvents, is completely unaffected by brine solutions and oil residue, and enjoys non-stick and low friction properties.

Chemically etching tubing and heat shrink sleeving

Fluoroplastics are known for their non-stick properties. However, chemical etching allows them to be easily and safely bonded to another material. The etching treatment changes the surface finish by altering the polymer properties and making them suitable for bonding with most adhesives, such as epoxy resins, polyurethanes and silicone RTVs.

Chemical etching only affects the very top layer of a fluoropolymer, so all the material’s other capabilities, such as resistance to bacteria, stability over time and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, remain intact. This means that etched fluoroplastic can be used in an even wider array of scenarios than non-etched.

We can chemically etch the surface of PTFE, FEP, PFA, PVDF, E-CTFE, ETFE and other fluoropolymers. The etching process is ideal for use with fluoroplastic tubing and heat shrink sleeving, especially in FEP, PFA and PTFE for roll covers or rubber hose lining applications. Fluoropolymer etching is targeted and very precise, so no matter the type of component you are looking to produce, we can meet your specific needs.

Manufacturing PTFE heat shrinkable billets

We can manufacture special heavy wall PTFE heat shrinkable billets. We offer the heat shrinkable billets in different diameters, from 4" to 5" and 7", with a 5.5" length and 4.5mm wall thickness. As the PTFE components are made to order, we can also offer special sizes.

Given their unusual thickness and shrink ratio, we have developed a special expansion process to manufacture the thick wall PTFE heat shrink billets. These billets are extremely complex to manufacture and cannot be produced using our usual fluoropolymer expansion process.

Here at Adtech, we are specialists in delivering innovative fluoropolymer solutions for your technical applications. Find out more about our Fluoroplastic Etching Service.

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