What’s The Difference Between PFA & PTFE?

Friday May 24th, 2024 | Francesco Grillo | Industry News

Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA) and Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) are both part of the fluoropolymer family, well-known for their exceptional non-stick properties, chemical resistance, and high-temperature capabilities. However, they have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for different applications.

PFA (Perfluoroalkoxy) PFA, also known by DuPont’s brand name, Teflon® PFA, is a flexible polymer known for its high resistance to stress cracking and its ability to withstand almost all solvents and chemicals. It can operate continuously at temperatures up to 260°C (500°F) and has excellent flame resistance, chemical stability, and dielectric strength. Unlike PTFE, PFA can be processed through conventional injection molding and screw extrusion techniques, which makes it easier to work with in manufacturing.

PFA is commonly used in applications requiring high purity and resistance to extreme temperatures and chemicals. These include tubing for corrosive fluid transfer, linings for chemical equipment, and various components like filtration housings and heat exchangers. Process Technology uses PFA in products such as TIH inline chemical heaters and X Series immersion coils​​.

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) PTFE, another well-known fluoropolymer, was accidentally discovered by Roy Plunkett in 1938. It is widely recognized under the brand name Teflon and is known for its exceptional non-stick properties, low friction coefficient, and resistance to high temperatures and chemical reactions. PTFE can resist temperatures up to 327°C (620°F) and is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water and other substances.

PTFE is used extensively as a non-stick coating for cookware and in industrial applications like lining pipes and tanks handling reactive chemicals. It also serves as an excellent lubricant in machinery, reducing energy consumption and wear and tear. Process Technology incorporates PTFE in various heaters and filtration systems​​.

Key Differences

  1. Processing: PFA can be melt-processed using conventional methods like injection molding, which is not possible with PTFE due to its higher melting point and viscosity​.
  2. Flexibility and Flex Life: PFA is more flexible but has a lower flex life compared to PTFE, making PTFE better suited for applications involving repetitive folding or bending​​.
  3. Heat Resistance: PTFE can withstand slightly higher temperatures (up to 327°C) compared to PFA (up to 260°C)​ ​.
  4. Dielectric Strength: PFA has a dielectric strength that is 3-4 times higher than that of PTFE, making it more suitable for applications requiring superior electrical insulation​​.
  5. Chemical Resistance: Both materials offer excellent chemical resistance, but PFA tends to be better suited for applications involving high purity and corrosive environments​​.

Understanding these differences can help in selecting the right material for your specific application needs, ensuring optimal performance and durability.