The history of fluoropolymers and their relevancy today
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.
How common are fluoropolymers today?
Though we don’t always realise, fluoropolymers are now a critical part of our everyday lives. This is due to a number of unique properties which make them suitable for use in automotive, electrical and domestic applications, among others.
Fluoropolymers can be characterised by the following key features:
- Chemical, electrical and solvent resistant
- Strong and durable
- Can 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.
Everyday applications of fluoropolymers:
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® (after Kinetic Chemicals registered the trademark in 1945). 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 mentioned above 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.
Here at Adtech, we manufacture a wide variety of fluoropolymer products suitable for a vast amount of applications. Take a look at the products we’ve produced over the years in our gallery, and get in touch today on 01285 762000 to discuss your requirements in more detail.