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FEP, PFA, & PTFE…What’s The Difference?

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You’ll be well acquainted with Teflon if you’ve ever used a non-stick pan in your kitchen.

But did you know that Teflon, whose scientific name is PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), is just one of the fluoropolymers that are extensively used in various industries?

That’s right!

From bakeware, medical devices to space equipment, fluoropolymers have found their way into almost every part of our lives.

So, the question is what are the other fluoropolymers? And how do they differ from the good-old Teflon that we all know of?

Read on to know more….

FEP (Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene)

Consider this to be a younger and more flexible version of PTFE. It has the same non-stick properties as Teflon but has a lower melting point which means FEP can be molded with less energy into different shapes.

The temperatures at which FEP can be worked on are less than 200 degrees Celsius, often known as the cryogenic temperature.

This property is massively beneficial for the electrical industry as wirings and cables can be coated with FEP without the fear of causing any damage to the conducting elements.

FEP is massively beneficial for the electrical industry…

Another compelling aspect of FEP is that it is transparent meaning that the material does not change the colour of the substance that it is applied to.

It is also extremely resistant to sunlight. So, as mentioned before, with its use in cables, no matter how hot it is where you live, these coatings will not cause any damage to the electrical wirings outside your house.

PFA (Perfluoroalkoxy)

Think of PFA as almost like a cousin to FEP.

It also has all the non-stick properties but melts at a much higher temperature of more than 260 degrees Celsius to be processed.

And here’s the science bit…

Chemically, PFA possesses a smaller chain length but a higher chain entanglement, with an extra atom of oxygen which higher thermal, chemical, and permeability resistance to the material.

The only drawback is that it is more expensive than PTFE and FEP.

PFA is used when purity is priority.

Naturally, then, it is used in industries that prioritise purity levels over cost.

You will find PFA used profusely in medical tubing, valve liners, pump fittings, semi-conductors, and similar equipment.

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)

Now, PTFE is already a household name. But why is it so?

If PFA and FEP have such good characteristics, what makes PTFE the preferred fluoropolymer for such a wide range of industries?

First of all, PTFE is most commonly used because of its best price to performance ratio. Moreover, even though FEP can be easily molded, PTFE offers more thermal and chemical resistance.

Its excellent non-stick properties and translucent color make it apt for a wide range of applications, from semi-conductors through electrical wirings to bakeware and even coating for combat knives.

PTFE is the win-win non-stick material

And as mentioned before, it is less costly when compared with PFA which means PTFE usually comes out on top as the win-win non-stick material and is used extensively all over.

Non-Stick Coatings All-Around…

So, there you go. Those are the distinct differences between FEP, PFA, and PTFE.

So, next time you buy anything that says non-stick coating, based on the cost, the color, and the heat resistance, you may be able to quickly tell which variety of fluoropolymer has been used on it.

If you would like to know more about how Product Release could help your industry, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts, who can discuss your problem and recommend an innovative solution that will not only help you now but will minimise future damage or repairs, giving you peace of mind.

12:41 on 2021-01-02