The Basic Difference Between PFA and PTFE

The Basic Difference Between PFA and PTFE

May 4, 2021

Fluoropolymers have numerous applications, but they’re most popularly known for keeping food from sticking to pans. If you’re running an industrial facility in San Jose, CA that requires the use of hydraulic tubing, it’s important to select tubing based on the type of fluoropolymer you need. You generally have two options to choose from: PFA and PTFE. What is PFA, and what is PTFE? Read on to learn about the differences between these two common polymers.

PTFE and PFA defined

PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, was the first synthetic fluoropolymer produced. It’s commonly known as Teflon™. It’s a molecular compound containing carbon and fluorine, also known as a fluorocarbon solid. Water or substances containing water can get it wet, and it has high electronegativity of fluorine. The most common applications for PTFE use it for containers and pipes for handling corrosive chemicals. It’s also used as a lubricant, helping to reduce friction within machinery. It minimizes wear and tear and reduces overall energy consumption.

What is PFA, and how can it be used in your industrial applications in San Jose, CA? PFA, or perfluoroalkoxy alkane, is a copolymer that was developed after the discovery of PTFE. PFA has similar properties when compared to PTFE, but it’s melt-processable due to conventional injection molding and screw extrusion techniques. PFA is most commonly known as Teflon™ PFA. It’s commonly used for plastic lab equipment or as sheet linings for chemical equipment. When used in certain applications, it allows you to replace more expensive alloys and metals with cheaper steel fiber reinforced plastics, or FRPs. PFA can withstand extreme circumstances, including chemical attacks and corrosive processes, making it a superior material for industrial or pneumatic tubing in most cases.

What’s the difference?

DuPont sells and distributes both PTFE and PFA. While they’re both fluoropolymers, they have some differences. Generally, PFA is considered a better form of tubing than PTFE, mainly due to its flexibility. Keep in mind, though, that PFA has a shorter flex life. Where PFA and PTFE differ most is in their electrical properties. The two have similar dissipation factors, but PFA can have up to four times the dielectric strength of PTFE.

PFA has the ability to be melt processed, giving it improved flow, thermal stability and creep resistance. PFA is more resilient and resists stress cracking by almost all solvents and chemicals. It’s also temperature resistant, so you can use it in both very hot and very cold environments. PTFE is more commonly used than PFA, since it’s superior in terms of its water absorbency and resistance to weathering.

While getting to know what PTFE is and how it’s different than PFA is an important step in selecting the right fluoropolymer for your needs, it’s always smart to get a professional opinion when trying to choose materials for your facility or application. Seek the advice of a seasoned fluoropolymer provider in San Jose, CA who understands what you need from your tubing. Contact Royal Brass Incorporated today to learn more about the different tubing qualities you can use at your facility.

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