Fluoropolymer coatings – the thin film, non-stick coatings
The modern non-stick surface was invented entirely by accident. In 1938, Roy Plunkett was busy working on a new chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant for DuPont when an experiment yielded some unexpected slippery results. Plunkett had just invented what we now call Teflon coating, the first fluoropolymer coating. ‘Fluoropolymer coatings’ is a general term for a class of coatings which are so named because they contain fluorocarbons. Many fluoropolymer coating types are better known by their brand names such as Teflon, Xylan, Excalibur, and Fluon. It is the strong bonds in the fluorocarbons which gives these coatings their non-stick qualities.
Nowadays fluoropolymer coatings are an indispensable part of our lives. The polymer is slippery, non-stick, highly temperature resistant, chemical resistant and corrosion resistant. It is used for cookware, windshield wiper blades, coating hoses and tubes that transmit chemicals, and medical implants such as heart valves. In this article we will describe different fluoropolymer coatings and their uses, as well as where to find companies and products in Canada.
High performance fluoropolymer coatings & their unique properties
Fluoropolymers are known for their non-stick properties, but they have many properties beyond slipperiness. It is the combination of these properties that make fluoropolymers such powerful coatings. These properties include:
- Non-wetting: Fluoropolymer coated surfaces are hydrophobic and oleophobic, and cannot be wetted. This also makes them easy to clean.
- Temperature resistance: Fluoropolymers are highly temperature resistant, and can function at temperatures of +260°C. They also have cryogenic stability and can maintain their physical properties down to -270°C.
- Electrical resistance: Fluoropolymers work as insulators, and have a high dielectric strength and high surface resistivity. This makes them especially useful in electrical applications such as light fittings and connectors.
- Prevents galling and reduces friction: Due to the non-stick, low friction properties of fluoropolymer coatings they prevents galling (a form of wear caused by adhesion between sliding surfaces) and provides excellent bearing properties. It can achieve very low coefficients of friction, so is ideal for shafts, bearing surfaces, moving mechanisms, stud bolts and fasteners.
- Chemical resistance: Fluoropolymers have a high resistance to solvents, acids, and bases.
- Corrosion resistance: Because it is waterproof and chemical resistant, fluoropolymer coatings are a barrier between a substrate and corrosive elements, protecting it from damage.
Fluoropolymer coating applications from medical equipment to cookware
The range of substrates that fluoropolymer coating can be applied to includes stainless steel, aluminium, carbon steel, carbon fibre, rubbers, plastics, glass, and more. The many varieties of fluoropolymer coating include PTFE coating (Teflon coating), PFA coating, ETFE coating, and FEP coating. About 85% of fluoropolymers are used for industrial applications such as computer networks and semi-conductor manufacturing equipment. The remain 15% is used in non-stick cookware, bakeware, small electrics and protective fabrics (like Gore-Tex). Below is a closer look at just a few of the possible applications.
Making medical equipment easy to clean
The range of substrates in the medical industry which can benefit from a coating that prevents biofilm and creates an oleophobic and hydrophobic surface which is easy to clean is endless. Surgical tools, life support equipment, needles, electrodes for diagnostics, medical clothing, gowns, sheets, bones prostheses, stents, tubes… the list goes on. Fluoropolymer coatings in the medical industry help provide surgical tools that create easier and cleaner surgeries, medical implants that are electrically insulat
d, clothing and equipment that diminishes the chances of infection.
Non stick surfaces to cookware and food processing – Teflon coating
The most recognised use for fluoropolymer coatings is non-stick cookware where Teflon coating really found its home. Pots, pans, and bakeware have all benefited from a Teflon coating. These non-stick benefits can be expanded into the food processing industry. Teflon coating is actually just the brand name for PTFE – polytetrafluoroethylene. Using a fluoropolymer on commercial equipment can allow the same equipment to make a wider range of food products (due to the hygienic, easy-to-clean nature of fluoropolymers) as well as cutting down on maintenance and issues with wastage and corrosion. With easier cleaning comes less downtime and fewer harsh chemicals, increasing productivity. Surfaces that may benefit from a fluoropolymer coating include vats, mixing hoppers, transfer buckets, moulds, rollers, blades, and process pipes.
Lubricating surfaces in manufacturing and other industrial uses
Corrosion is a big issue facing the world of industry and manufacture. Fluoropolymer coatings are common anti rust coatings, particularly where thin-film coatings are required. As well as corrosion, substrates in the chemical, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries need protection from water, chemicals, temperature, and weathering. Fluoropolymer coatings provide a protective lining for hose assemblies and industrial pipelines and are used in reactor vessels and storage tanks. Their low friction surface is used in valves, pumps, hydraulics, and more.
Protecting and insulating electronics
In an electronic world, the need for insulation is high. Fluoropolymer coatings are insulating and have a high dielectric strength, but on top of that they are hydrophobic, heat resistant, and can form around objects like circuitry. These qualities mean they are used in almost all industrial sectors, from aviation and aerospace to telecommunications and automotive. Fluoropolymer coatings are used for example for insulating wiring and cables, protecting circuit boards, moisture-proofing LCD displays and screens.
Get in touch with a fluoropolymer coatings specialist in Canada
There are companies across Canada that provide specialised fluoropolymer coating applications in all industries. These companies often rely on internationally recognised products from manufacturers such as AkzoNobel, PPG and Sherwin Williams. If you have a project that requires fluoropolymer coating, we can help you find the solution. Take advantage of our 100% free quote service by clicking the “Request a Quote” button below and let us, in cooperation with our coating partners, connect you with your coating needs.