Plastics 101

Fluoropolymers Do What Other Materials Can’t

Fluoropolymers ensure safety, reliability and performance in numerous applications across major markets and cutting-edge technologies.

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Fluoropolymers are high-performance plastics we rely on in many aspects of our everyday lives and in many unique, highly specialized applications.

What are fluoropolymers?

Fluoropolymers are fluorocarbon-based plastics used in specific applications where other materials simply cannot perform. For example, fluoropolymers are an essential part in cable wiring because they have the unique ability to withstand high heat and corrosive environments where other products cannot function. Their nonadhesive and low-friction properties are unmatched, making them the best solution for applications in markets including aerospace, electronics and telecommunications. Fluoropolymers are virtually maintenance free, even in the most extreme conditions.

Image of Colorful Wire Coatings

Why are fluoropolymers so valuable?

Through their use in many different applications, from the telecommunications industry to the automotive industry, they make life safer and more efficient for millions of people every day.

Fluoropolymers Insulate and Protect
Unmatched Temperature and Chemical Resistance
Fluoropolymers are high-performance plastics

What are the different types of fluoropolymers?

Not all fluoropolymers are created equal. Each have unique qualities that are beneficial. We can break them into categories based on their physical properties, processing characteristics and uses.

How are fluoropolymers used?

Fluoropolymers are the go-to materials for specific applications in many important industries and high-intensity applications. Without them, safety and performance in crucial areas could be compromised.


Aerospace/military
Fluoropolymers have high temperature/chemical resistance, low flammability and unique electrical performance. Because of this, they increase passenger protection and reliability on commercial, private and military aircrafts. They’re also used in wire and cable insulation, fuel and hydraulic hoses, seals/bushing and even space apparel for astronauts.


Automotive/transportation
With unmatched temperature and chemical resistance, unique electrical performance and decreased friction, fluoropolymers are high-performance plastics that help manufacturers produce lighter-weight vehicles that are extremely reliable. They’re used in fuel and brake hoses and tubing, control cables and under-hood wire.


Chemical/petrochemical processing
Fluoropolymers help create nonstick surfaces in applications that require temperature resistance. They’re used in lined pipes, valves, pumps, tank and reactor linings, gaskets and seals. They’re crucial to the safety of workers and the public, as they keep all kinds of equipment and chemical systems secured. They also benefit businesses by increasing productivity and decreasing the potential for accidents.


Semiconductor/electronics manufacturing
Fluoropolymers are used to boost productivity and purity in an array of processes, helping manufacturers create high-quality, cost-effective products. Since other materials lack the chemical and temperature resistance and electrical performance of fluoropolymers, they’re the number-one choice.


Telecommunications
Because of their electrical performance, fire resistance and optical properties, fluoropolymers are used in wire insulation, local area network (LAN) cables, mainframe wiring, satellite wiring and fiber-optic cladding and cable. Fluoropolymers, which act as the material of choice for wire insulation in our complex telecommunications system, allow us to stay connected to the world around us.

What are the concerns about fluoropolymers?

Certain fluoropolymers are increasingly the subject of media attention and scrutiny, and there can be some confusion about fluoropolymers. Are they safe? This confusion stems more from the materials used to produce fluoropolymers than from the polymers themselves.

The fluoropolymers used today are safe.

Historically, fluoropolymers were processed using two types of acid—PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid). Because of their unique properties, these chemicals are persistent in the environment and, if found in the body, PFOA and PFOS can accumulate over time. Although their health effects are uncertain, there is a possibility that exposure to PFOA and PFOS can have negative impacts on human health.

Importantly, PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the U.S. When concerns arose about these processing materials, eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and other long-chain fluorinated substances in their products, under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) PFOA Stewardship Program. Significant New Use Rules (SNURs), which have the weight of EPA regulations, generally prevent companies from importing or manufacturing such perfluorinated chemicals without prior approval by the EPA.

After the removal of PFOA and PFOS, companies developed alternatives to these long-chain fluorinated substances that perform the same tasks without the same environmental or public health risks. All of these replacements are safe to use according to governmental agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the EPA.

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