Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene. The chemical structure is similar to that of polyethylene (PE), except that fluorine completely replaces the hydrogen atoms. This is the reason it’s often referred to as perfluoro polymer. The fluorine content in PTFE is theoretically 76% with 95% crystallinity. While PTFE and PE may seem somewhat similar, they are completely different in the way they are created and used.
PTFE material is used in many industries across the world due to its durable qualities, stability, and non-stick properties. PTFE is also cost-effective, hydrophobic, and resistant to high temperatures. This makes it an excellent choice for pharmaceutical labs and biotechnology.
One of the most desirable qualities of PTFE is its chemical resistance and non-reactivity. PTFE is chemically inert and is a perfect choice for sealing components like vial caps and septa. It’s an excellent choice for industries that manufacture chemically aggressive products since it’s virtually resistant to wear and weathering. It’s also insensitive to extreme temperatures, making it a desirable material where acids and other harsh chemicals are being used.
Another great quality of PTFE is that it’s nonstick and has low friction. This makes it an ideal choice for mechanical engineering and products where sliding movement is needed. This material is non-wetting and survives the aging process while offering insulation as well as corrosion protection.
Lastly, PTFE meets rigid FDA requirements for food safety, making it an industry standard for food packaging and manufacturing. It’s affordable and resists staining, which is why so many food companies and pharmaceutical labs are choosing PTFE.
Where is PTFE Used?
Originally discovered (accidentally) by Dr. Plunkett in 1938, PTFE has found its place in a vast range of industries, large and small. From tiny vial caps and silicone septa to huge bridges and construction projects, this material has become a standard in affordability, durability, and resistance. PTFE is used in industries dealing with chemical, electrical/electronics, construction, architectural, and automotive industries. Here are just a few places you’ll find PTFE material:
- O-rings, valve stem seals, shaft seals, gaskets, power steering, and transmission components
- Cardiovascular grafts and ligament replacements
- Pharmaceuticals like vial caps, silicone septa, and lined screw caps
- Electrical insulation and semiconductor parts
- Flexible printed circuit boards
- Seats and plugs, bearings, fittings, and valves
- Non-stick surfaces including cookware
- Coatings for heat exchangers, impellers, autoclaves, containers, and pumps
PTFE Products by ILT
ITL has been a global leader in manufacturing vial caps for over 20 years. Along with platinum silicone, PTFE is one of their materials of choice. The company has built its brand from the ground up, manufacturing silicone seals that have a PTFE barrier facing the sample. This provides an inert non-stick surface during sample analysis. All products, including the machines that make them, are created in the USA. Products are then shipped worldwide to industries such as Chromatography, Environmental Testing, Headspace Analysis, Diagnostics, and Chemical Packaging.
Using PTFE materials is just one of the ways ILT has created a chemically inert manufacturing breakthrough that allows for a true bond at the molecular level. This provides uniform septa and minimizes the potential for septa coring. Read more about the seals and septa industry on our blog page or learn more about ILT, the world leader in manufacturing seals and septa, here.