Fluoropolymers Gain Altitude
A certain plastic has found its way onto stain-proof furniture, kitchenware, and a myriad of other products both common and unique. These miracle materials, fluoropolymers or fluoroplastics, are a specialty plastic that possesses a unique combination of properties that make them critical to modern life and applicable across various industries and sectors. While fluoropolymers have a long history of use in a range of laboratory applications, they are now highly sought after due to their irreplaceable combination of properties.
- Fire resistant
- Weather resistant
- Temperature resistant
- Chemical resistant
- High conductivity
Fluoropolymers have taken hold in the aerospace industry not only with the push to produce lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft, but also to protect spacecraft that travel outside the earth’s atmosphere. Especially for spacecraft, fluoropolymers provide protection and increased performance in the extreme environment of space. The aerospace industry can be plagued by signal failures, malfunctioning electronics, and degraded materials that can jeopardize high-cost investments.
Using high-performance fluoropolymers adds durability, reliability, and conductivity to spacecraft, satellites, and aircraft.
Benefits of Fluoropolymers in the Aerospace Industry
- Increased fuel efficiency
- Lower carbon and NOx exhaust emissions
- Increased component lifetimes
- Lower maintenance costs
- Increased comfort and noise reduction
- Enabling use of alternative fuels and power storage options
- Avoid oil and fuel leakage
PTFE, FEP, PFA–What’s the difference and which one do you need?
The most common fluoroplastics include PTFE, FEP, and PFA. And while you may not be familiar with these terms, you undoubtedly know these compounds for their shared reputable characteristics:
- Resistant to extreme temperatures
- Low friction surfaces
- Non-stick and waterproof
- High chemical resistance
- High electrical resistance
PFTE, FEP, and PFA fluoroplastics each have their own unique properties in addition to their shared characteristics.
PTFE is the original fluoroplastic first introduced to the market in 1946. It differentiates itself from other fluoroplastics with the following qualities:
- Extreme temperature resistance (-240 to 260+ degrees Celsius)
- Resistant to almost every chemical
- Extremely non-stick
- Low friction
- Milky white in color
- Can be made to prevent static buildup in aerospace applications
Once applied, PTFE offers the best insulation against heat, freezing, chemicals, and electricity for machinery and other products, as well as cleaning and production.
Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP)
FEP is similar to PTFE but with a lower crystallinity and melt viscosity, making it easier to melt and process than PTFE. This allows FEP products to be quickly re-moulded or shaped. It differentiates itself from other fluoroplastics with the following qualities:
- Easier to melt, mold, and shape than PTFE
- Temperature resistant between -200 to 200+ degrees Celsius
- Higher flexibility
- UV resistant
- Transparent in color
PFA’s main distinguishable characteristic is that it is melt-processed and therefore can be molded with conventional methods like heat guns or torches. It differentiates itself from other fluoroplastics with the following qualities:
- Lower melting temperature than PTFE
- Higher flexibility
- Less folding endurance than PTFE
- More affected by weathering than PTFE
- Transparent in color
PTFE, PEF, and PFA Usage in the Aerospace Industry
Whether produced as films, sheets, tubing, coating, sleeves, or rollers, these fluoroplastics have a variety of applications in the aerospace industry:
- Aircraft wings
- Electrical connectors
- Fuel systems
- Air bearings
- Electric harness parts
- Control surfaces
- Electronic device trays
- Tank fuel seals
- Throttle box seals
- Arming components
- Tank liners
- Tubing liners
- 3D printing and molding
- Wire & cable insulation
- Fluid transfer devices
- Covering sensitive electrical components
- Sleeve items that require light transmission
Fluoron has developed anti-static heat-shrinkable fluoroplastic sleeves, non-stick release coatings, and patented seaming and welding techniques applicable to any industries that have an issue with static interfering production processes. Our products are especially applicable to aerospace tubings and aerospace coatings that require durability and reliability in extreme environments. With a wide selection of products produced with PTFE, FEP, or PFA, we have the resources to cater to your specific fluoroplastic needs.
Fluoron Custom Heat Shrinkable Non-Stick Roll Covers Include PTFE, PEF, and PFA Options
Fluoron’s heat shrinkable fluoropolymer roller covers solve build-up issues, protect rollers longer, and reduce manufacturing downtime.
FluoroClear (formerly HS-100)
Fabricated from a transparent FEP fluoropolymer, our FluoroClear covers are low cost, easy to install, and offer outstanding non-stick properties. FluoroClear covers are the most commonly used fluoropolymer jackets for aerospace applications.
- Available in .020” or .060” thickness
- Available with or without adhesive bonding on the I.D.
- FDA approved for food and medical applications
FluoroFlex (formerly HS-200)
Fabricated from .060” thick PFA, our FluorFlex covers have improved elasticity and flex fatigue resistance. FluoroFlex covers are ideal for rubber nip rollers or high-temperature, high-compression applications.
- 475 degree Celsius working temperature
- Etched on ID for adhesive bonding
- Engineered from virgin Perfluoroalkoxy alkanes (PFA) fluoropolymer resin
FluoroStat (formerly HS-400)
Fabricated from carbon reinforced PTFE to enable anti-static properties and conductivity, our FluoroStat covers provide users with a completely conductive roller cover that will not cause static discharge. FluoroStat covers offer a long-lasting, non-stick, high wear surface.
- Available in .060” thickness
- 10 times higher wear resistance than other fluoropolymer alternatives
- Only heat shrinkable cover jacket made of this material on the market
Fluoron Patented Manufacturing and Implementation Techniques
Products like Fluoron’s FluoroStat can potentially present implementation and application challenges if you do not have the in-house capability to shape and mold these materials. Specifically for products that include PTFE, these materials can be difficult to shape and form. Fluoron has its own proprietary techniques like On Machine Seaming and welding capabilities to work with these products before exporting. Our seaming technology provides a bond stronger than the FEP itself, ensuring a long lasting, high release product.
Fluoron couples the extraordinary material characteristics of fluoropolymers with patented capabilities in plastic welding and manufacturing, coating, and bonding of large diameter heat shrinkable tubing. With over 50 years of experience providing custom fluoropolymer solutions to the Aerospace, Defense, and Industrial Manufacturing sectors, Fluoron guarantees we will enable you to iterate to a solution faster than any other fluoropolymer supplier. With our commitment to the fastest response and delivery times, and best in class customer service, Fluoron’s hands-on technicians will install our product and walk through any problems that arise. We are not satisfied until our customers are.