July 16, 2015
A History of PTFEnews
PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is a miracle material for the sealing industry, because of its strong chemical resistance, high melting point, and slippery surface. So what is the history of PTFE and the origin behind this slick substance?
How It All Began
PTFE was discovered quite by accident. In 1938, Roy Plunkett, a scientist working at DuPont, was experimenting with various types of refrigerants, storing them in cylinders. When he later opened one of the cylinders, he was surprised to find that the gas was gone. It had polymerized (a chemical reaction when two or more small molecules combine to form larger molecules), and a white, waxy substance remained. Testing of the substance revealed that it did not react with any chemicals (including highly corrosive acid), could withstand very high temperatures, and was extremely slippery. The folks at DuPont knew they had something good, and trademarked Teflon, the first brand of PTFE, in 1945.
PTFE Through the Years
Uses for PTFE have evolved over time. Initially, it was expensive to produce, and was reserved for specialized use in certain industrial and military applications. One of its renowned uses in history was in the Manhattan Project in World War II, which led to the creation of the first nuclear weapons. Over time, use of PTFE expanded to other areas: as a stain repellant in fabric, and we all know about its use in nonstick cookware. But PTFE plays a critical role in a number of other industries as well. Because PTFE can withstand high temperatures, high pressure, and high shaft speed, it is ideal for oil seals, such as those used in agricultural, recreational, and motorsport vehicles.
Did You Know?
Here are some fun facts about PTFE:
- Teflon was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most slippery substance. It has since “slipped” to number three of slipperiest substances.
- Despite being number three with Guinness, PTFE is still the only substance that a gecko’s feet will not stick to. This is because PTFE contains carbon and fluorine, and when fluorine is part of a molecule it repels other matter- even super-sticky gecko feet!
- PTFE is one of the largest molecules known to man.
- Tritec Seal’s PTFE rotary lip seals are used in NASCAR vehicles!
- Steve Sekulich (Tritec’s Founder) was the pioneer in testing and promoting PTFE as an excellent oil seal material.
- Tritec continues to use Steve Sekulich’s pioneering, innovative, and proprietary knowledge as a basis for your sealing solutions.
TRITEC uses its own expertly-developed blend of PTFE compounds when creating custom sealing solutions, based on the needs of each project. Contact us and we’ll help you find the right sealing solution for your application.