Fluoropolymers are what we here at Adtech do best. We’re experts in the design and manufacturing of polymers, and we supply to a variety of industries. But how did fluoropolymers come about, and why are they still so relevant today?
In 1938, scientist Roy J. Plunkett discovered fluoropolymers by accident. On working with fluorocarbon gasses, he opened the valve to one gas cylinder, but found that no gas came out of it. Upon cutting the cylinder open, he then discovered a white waxy substance which didn’t melt or dissolve. This was PTFE (nowadays better known as Teflon®), which has since become the most widely-used fluoropolymer material in the world.
In technical terms, fluoropolymers are fluorocarbon-based plastics with multiple strong carbon-fluorine bonds. Put simply, however, they’re the ‘superheroes’ of the plastic industry, some of the toughest materials around.
Though we don’t always realise, fluoropolymers are now a critical part of our everyday lives. This is due to several unique properties which make them suitable for use in automotive, electrical and domestic applications, among others. Find out more about the range of industries where fluoropolymers are used.
Fluoropolymers can be characterised by the following key features:
Chemical, electrical and solvent resistant
Strong and durable
Withstand very high (+260°C) and very low (-200°C) working temperatures
With these in mind, fluoropolymers are vital in helping to provide a clean, safe and functional world.
Due to their extraordinary properties, fluoropolymers are woven into our daily lives in hundreds of (often unexpected) ways. The most obvious way fluoropolymers feature in our lives is when cooking, because nowadays almost all non-stick pans are now made using PTFE, commercially known as Teflon®. But there are also many more everyday uses of fluoropolymers.
In the home, in addition to kitchenware, most razors contain a PTFE-based anti-friction coating and, on rainy days, your waterproof coat likely has a breathable ePTFE fabric inside to help keep you dry.
At work, particularly if you work in manufacturing, fluoropolymers will surround you in abundance. This is because of their unique properties that ensure safe and reliable machinery. In an office environment, almost every electrical device (smartphones, laptops, tablets) will contain fluoropolymer insulated components to allow for long-term, advanced and safe performance.
At the hospital, innovative fluoropolymer-based medical devices have formed the solutions to many health problems since their discovery over the past 80 years, drastically improving and saving the lives of millions. Catheters, for example, often have a fluoropolymer coating, while FEP (another type of fluoropolymer similar to PTFE) is used in UV radiation equipment and able to kill 99.9% of bacteria in a matter of seconds.