PTFE  Properties, Production, Price, Market and Uses

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), a strong, tough, waxy, non-flammable kind of synthetic resin produced from polymerization process. It is popularly known under the brand names of Teflon, Hostaflon & Polyflon commonly used for non-stick pans or making things of slippery nature.


 

PTFE Coated Teflon Pan


What is PTFE?

Polytetrafluoroethylene is a kind of synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene with a wide variety of applications. The best-recognized brand for this material is Chemours (a spin-off of DuPont) in 2015, which originally discovered it in 1938.

It is a strong, tough, waxy, non-flammable synthetic resin produced by the process of polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene. It is differentiated on the basis of its properties like slippery surface, high melting point & chemical resistance.

The major use of polytetrafluoroethylene polymer nowadays is to be used as coatings for nonstick cookware. It has its application in a number of industrial products also including bearings, pipe liners & several parts of pumps and valves.



History

It was discovered by Roy Plunkett (American Chemist for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company) in 1938. This resin was discovered accidentally when he found that a tank of gaseous tetrafluoroethylene refrigerant had polymerized into a white powder.

Later, at the time of Second World War, it was used as a corrosion resistant coating to protect metal equipment being used for handling radioactive materials.

After many years of world war, this resin could still not gain commercial utilization due to its slippery nature and high melting point until DuPont release it with a trademark of Teflon-Coated nonstick cookware in 1960.



How is PTFE produced?

Polytetrafluoroethylene is produced by the free-radical polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene.

As tetrafluoroethylene can explosively decompose into tetrafluoromethane and carbon, a variety of special apparatus is used to prevent hot spots that can cause harmful side reactions.

The process is initiated by persulfate which is homolyzed to produce sulfate radicals. Later the resultant polymer is terminated with sulfate ester groups that can be hydrolyzed to produce the end groups of the polymer.

As this material is soluble in almost every solvent thus, the process of polymerization (using surfactants such as PFOS) is conducted as an emulsion in water.

The main raw materials of polytetrafluoroethylene are Chloroform, Fluorspar, and hydrochloric acid.



Global Trade of PTFE

 

Global Trade Balance

Global Trade Balance of PTFE

The global trade of PTFE material was – US$ 0.02bn in 2016. The import of the material was US$ 0.9bn while the export was US$ 0.88bn in 2016. The trade gap is closing since past few years.


Top 10 Countries Exporting PTFE

World Top 10 Countries Exporting PTFE

China is the largest exporter of PTFE material globally. It exported material worth of US$ 154.69mn. The second largest exporter in 2016 was the United States. It exported material worth of US$ 118.6mn followed by Germany which exported material worth US$ 107.6mn.

Top 10 Countries Importing PTFE

World Top 10 Countries Importing PTFE

The United is the largest importer of polytetrafluoroethylene. It imported the material worth of US$ 158.91mn in 2016. The United States is also the second largest exporter of polytetrafluoroethylene.

Among the Asian country China, South Korea, and Japan are the largest importer.  China imported material worth of US$ 78.38mn, South Korea worth of US$ 66.98mn and Japan worth of US$ 27.18mn.

Asia-Pacific is world’s largest market of polytetrafluoroethylene. Non-stick cookware is the major driver of the market. The growing automotive sector in these regions is also pushing the demand for polytetrafluoroethylene.



PTFE Pricing Trend

 


 

PTFE Market Analysis (Segmentation, Driver, Constraints & Forecasting)

PTFE Market Forecast

PTFE has been one of the dominant fluoropolymers witnessing a significant amount of growth in recent years and is expected to gain more growth along with popularity in coming years.

The market for polytetrafluoroethylene is expected to generate global revenue of more than US$ 7bn by 2022 and the demand was estimated to be 247 thousand MT in the year 2022.

It is primarily available in powder form such as fine, micronized and also in aqueous dispersion.

This material is being widely used in several applications in form of mechanical components and as coating materials. Primary end-user industries served by these resins include chemical processing, mechanical, food, household, automotive, electronics and many others.

Market Drivers- The global market is primarily driven due to following factors:

  • Growing needs for improved efficiency& emission controls which results in the excess use of this polymer in automotive and transportation sector.
  • Increasing industrial and chemical applications of material including gaskets, linings, washers, pump interiors, seals, etc.
  • Increased use in electronics industry majorly for semiconductor fabrication, lithium-ion batteries, wires & cable insulation
  • Emerging application of polymer in PV modules and fuels cells has also fueled the market demand in recent years.

Market Constraints- The factors that hamper the global market demand include:

  • The global market is highly concentrated and dominated by a handful of players. Therefore there is kind of monopoly in the market and changing policies may hinder market growth.
  • Changing raw material prices could also hinder the market growth.

Regional Outlook- Asia-Pacific regions especially China & India holds the dominant market share in the global market demand followed by Europe and North America.

The Asia Pacific proves to be the largest market for these materials because of cheap availability of raw materials, skilled labor, land, and equipment.

The demand in North America and Europe are due to increase use of the material in growing chemical and industrial processing in these regions along with demand in growing automotive industry.



PTFE Properties

Polytetrafluoroethylene is more than just being slippery. It has a number of properties which make it applicable to a variety of industrial and end-segment uses. These basic properties include:

  • Highly resistant towards chemicals & weathering.
  • Excellent dielectric properties.
  • High thermal stability with strong flame resistance.
  • Non-stick, low friction with food grade compliance.
  • Smooth surface finishing can be achieved easily.
  • Non-wetting and highly protective against corrosion.

Physical Properties

Density- 2200 kg/m3

Melting Point- 600 K

Thermal Expansion- 112–125 • 10−6 K−1 [23]

Glass Temperature-388K [22]

Coefficient of friction- 0.05-0.10



Common Grades of PTFE

The commonly available grades of this polymer material in the market are as follows:

  1. Virgin PTFE

    It is one of the most known chemically inert forms of material used in many varied applications and industries.

Properties-

  • Highly chemical resistant to wide temperature range.
  • Excellent thermal stability & electric insulation.
  • FDA approved and has an infinite shelf life.
  • Low coefficient of friction.

Physical properties

Tensile strength – 20 – 30 MPa

Specific gravity – 2.14 – 2.19 g/cm3

Coefficient of friction -<0.1

Water absorption – Zero


Applications

It is commonly used in high voltage electrical connectors, environmental seals and for commercial fishing reels.

Other applications include pump housing, valve gaskets, roll coverings, shaft bearing, filter housing, pump & instrument construction, electrical industry, laser technology, food & medical technology and many others.

 

  1. Glass Filled PTFE

    It is 25 percent of glass fiber mixed with the virgin form which helps to increase the compressive strength and lowers the deformation under load.

Properties

  • Improved hardness & wear resistant.
  • Lower thermal expansion with a higher coefficient of friction.
  • The abrasive filler is usually unsuitable for certain applications.
  • Reduced resistance towards gases and is non-conductive.

Physical properties

Tensile strength – 31 MPa (4600 PSI)

Specific Gravity – 2.23 – 2.26 g/cm3

Thermal Conductivity – 10.6 x 10-4 cal/cm-sec-°C

Coefficient of linear thermal expansion –7-11.2 x10-5°C (100°C)

Applications

The application includes usage in fume purification, roller coverings, machine parts, chemical engineering, pure water production, etching plates and cryogenics etc.

 

  1. Bronze Filled PTFE

    It is the addition of bronze to the virgin form of material to provide better dimensional stability and lowers creep along with the cold flow and wear.

Properties

  • Good electrical and thermal conductivity.
  • Improved wear resistance, especially under load.
  • Very economical & highly resistant to chemicals.
  • Lower elongations and conductivity is problematic.

Physical Properties

Specific gravity – 2.05 – 2.12 g/cm3

Tensile strength – 13 – 18 MPa

Elongation – 90 – 300%

Coefficient of static & dynamic friction – 0.14 – 0.16 & 0.12 – 0.14

Applications

Like other grades of PTFE, this grade also inhibits a number of variations which can be manipulated to improve properties according to the use.

As carbon in itself has poor wear and mechanical properties. However, when two carbon carbons combine to produce this grade they carry improved properties and become an excellent choice for seals & rings used at a different pressure.

 

  1. Carbon Filled PTFE

    In this grade, carbon is added to the original form of material which helps to enhance the strength and wear resistance. It also helps to provide thermal conductivity and low permeability.

Properties

  • Hard wearing material with very high specific gravity.
  • Good thermal & electrical conductivity.
  • Having best wear properties among all grades.
  • High deformation strength.

Physical properties

Specific gravity – 3.8 – 3.95 g/cm3

Tensile strength – 10 – 18 MPa

Elongation – 100 – 200%

Shore D hardness – 65-75

Applications

It is extensively used in the compressor industry, the basic usage includes wear rings, piston rings and bearing rings. As it is an extremely versatile material, it is also applicable to be used for high-performance seals and wipers.

 

  1. Stainless Steel Filled PTFE

    When steel is added to the virgin of polymer it gains excellent strength and stability even to resist under elevated temperatures and extreme load.

Properties

  • They have increased thermal & electrical conductivity.
  • Excellent under extreme load and temperature.
  • Having lower creeps, cold flow and wear.
  • Though it is very heavy, has extremely hard wearing quality.

Physical Properties

Specific gravity – 3.35 g/cm3

Tensile strength – Min 22 MPa

Elongation – Min 220%

Shore D hardness – 65-69

Applications

It is a versatile form of grade which can be used on steam and thermal fluid applications It is highly good material to be used for V-Ball type flow control ball valve applications due to its high wear resistance.


Applications and Uses of PTFE

Polytetrafluoroethylene has varying properties which make this material suitable for wide range of applications in industrial and end segment uses.

These applications are almost in every prominent industrial sector ranging from aerospace, food & beverages, pharmaceutical to even telecom sector. Some of the major uses of this resin are as follows:

PTFE Sheet & Film

As this material has the highest melting point and is also capable to resist even at 260°C (500 F).  Thus it is widely used to manufacture sheets and films which are further used for a large number of applications as a final product in the end segment market.

Properties of these sheets & films which make them suitable for a variety of end segment uses are:

  • UV rays stabilization
  • Lowest coefficient in comparison to any solid
  • Has no slip-stick property
  • It has almost equal static and dynamic coefficients
  • Meets the FDA & USDA standards
  • Temperature range – 20°F to 500°F

These sheets are used majorly in the packaging sector for packing materials in chemical equipment, packaging of end-user products (pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, household etc).

PTFE Industrial Coatings

The primary utilization of this material is for industrial coating applications globally. The slippery nature of high-temperature resistance and reduced stress cracking makes it’s a perfect choice to be used as a coating material.

Application- It is being used as a coating material for different uses in varied industries including aerospace, electronics, and automobiles.

It is even used for the construction of igniters for rocket propellants and to coat certain type of bullets (to prevent wear on the gun when bullets pass through the barrel).

Other prominent uses of this polymer material in different industries are:

  • Chemical & Steel industries– Hoses and many other machine parts that handle corrosive substances are always coated to avoid any kind of problems while working with chemicals or steel.
  • Windshield wiper blade– The blades of the windshield are coated so that the smooth surface of the blades enable them to glide smoothly across the windshield.
  • Fabric and carpet protection– Usually carpets and many of the industrial fabrics are treated beforehand with this resin to avoid any kind of stains.
  • Hair styling tools– Majorly hair straighter & curlers are often coated with Teflon (PTFE) as these tools are used at very high temperature. Also, the slippery nature of material offers ease of use.
  • Nail Polish– To achieve the smooth surface in polish and avoid cracking this material is added to nail polishes.

Teflon Coatings & Nonstick Wear

Polytetrafluoroethylene is better known by one of its prominent brand name “Teflon”. It is the best-known brand for non-stick pans and pots coated by this resin material.

Teflon is recognized globally for creating a slippery surface in its non-stick surface inside the cookware. This non-stick feature provided by the company in cooking pans & pot prevent food from sticking to the pots and pans. It also reduces the need for cooking oil in food as the pans are naturally non-stick in nature.

Different Processing Techniques associated with Teflon

 Products made from Teflon fluoroplastic resins are highly resistant towards temperature and chemicals. The mechanical toughness and low friction properties make them applicable to be processed through different processing techniques in different forms including:

  • Teflon Fluoroplastic for Resin Aqueous Dispersion- This process involves milky white dispersion of Polytetrafluoroethylene in water, stabilized by wetting agents.
    The can be further changed according to the requirement by adding solid or other liquid ingredients. It is a kind of practical method of coating or impregnating, using a resin that does not respond to traditional solvents or melt processing techniques.
  • Teflon Fluoroplastic for Lubricate Paste Extrusion- It is available in white powder often termed as a fine powder.It is capable of being sheared by lubricating paste extrusion into some coherent fibrous form of a mixture (having useful structural integrity).
    This method is commonly used for producing a long length of product from resins that can’t be melt-extruded.
  • Teflon Fluoroplastic for Resin Granular Molding Powders- These are the ideal choice for molding products and stock shapes such as for rods, tubes, and sheets.
    Products fabricated from Teflon material stock shapes remain unaffected by chemicals and also provide with low-temperature toughness, adhesion, and strong flame resistance.

PTFE Powder

Polytetrafluoroethylene is also available in white powder form known by the term “fine powder”.  Teflon TM fine powder is also the known brand name for a powdered form of material also. It is used for as coating material for industrial and household goods.

These powders are converted into usable items (shapes, wires, tapes etc) through the process of paste extrusion which is further followed by post extrusion heating. This process is used to remove the residual solvents of hydrocarbons and enhance

This powder is suitable for making touch weight measurements on grand actions since it will help to reduce the friction as compared to other lubricants.

Physical Properties

Tensile strength – Min. 24 Mpa

Specific Gravity – 2.16-2.20

Elongation at break – Min. 300%

Moisture Content – Max. 0.04%

 Advantages of using powder coating:

  • More attractive, high-quality finish and durable
  • Economical and environment-friendly
  • Corrosion resistance for longer time
  • Available in any color or gloss (even in matt finish)

Applications- Primarily it used as a coating material in different industries. It also has some other uses including insulation for wires and cable, used in tubing, pipe liners, and films.

It is even used for sintered and unsintered tapes, microporous membranes, heat shrink tubing, profile shapes, bushings,  pull/push cables and many other components requiring high-performance plastic materials.

Types of Powder coating used commonly are – Polyester, TGIC Polyester, Epoxy, Urethanes, PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride) and many others.


Advantages of using PTFE

It is an incredibly versatile material with a wide variety of applications best known for its non-stick properties and resistance towards high temperatures. Different properties offer following advantages in using polytetrafluoroethylene:

  • It is an EXCELLENT ELECTRICAL INSULATOR thus, can be easily used as an insulator for wiring and cables majorly in computer applications.
  • It has LOW FRICTION. This feature makes it a popular material in mechanical engineering applications including usage in slide bearings, slide plates, gears and other working parts.
  • The material is RESISTANT TO WEAR which means it is non-reactive and tolerant towards high temperatures. This feature helps to make it suitable to be used in industrial pipes and hose assemblies (where chemical and acids are used).
  • It is TOLERANT OF HIGH TEMPERATURES thus, offer ease of usage in chemical and industrial processing with acids and chemicals etc.
  • It is FDA APPROVED & FOOD SAFE which makes it an excellent choice for applications regarding food manufacturing and packaging.
  • The polymer is CHEMICALLY INERT &RESISTANT, making it an ideal choice for sealing components in chemically aggressive uses.
  • It is AFFORDABLE along with BEST PERFORMANCE RATIO. As it enables affordable structure expansion without stains it is widely used in the construction of parks, supermarkets, bridges and even in cars also.