Polytetrafluoroethylene – usually abbreviated to PTFE – is an extremely versatile fluoropolymer characterised by its non-wetting properties and high-temperature performance. PTFE also has an exceptionally low coefficient of friction (0.05 – 0.10) owing to its unique chemical structure. In this article, we will explore why this is the case and why PTFE film is the ideal material for low-friction tapes.
PTFE films are comprised of fluorocarbon (C2F4) n molecules in which the carbon is essentially encapsulated by fluorine, which has the greatest electronegativity of any element. This is important as electronegativity defines how likely an atom is to attract a bonding pair or electrons, making it highly unreactive. Additionally, as the carbon atoms are inaccessible, they have a negligible impact on reactivity too.
So, PTFE films have such a low coefficient of friction because they exhibit limited intermolecular reactions with contacting materials. Objects easily slide off PTFE. In fact, PTFE is the only material with non-stick properties good enough to resist the van der Waals forces of Gecko setae, meaning it is the only substance that a Gecko cannot stick to.
Although the non-stick properties of films used for the exterior of low-friction tape are critical, they must perform on multiple fronts to meet key performance indicators. Fortunately, PTFE films offer a range of additional benefits that enable their use in a range of applications.
Alongside the above benefits, PTFE films also exhibit notable high- and low-temperature performance. Combined with its exceedingly low reactivity and non-stick properties, low-friction PTFE tapes can be reliably deployed in harsh environments associated with corrosive compounds, ensuring long-term performance where it matters most.
Saint Gobain Performance Plastics is a world leader in the manufacture of high-performance PTFE films for a wide range of end-use scenarios. We have over 45 years’ experience partnering with product innovators across the full spectrum of science and industry. If you would like to learn more about using our PTFE films for low-friction tape fabrication, or if you are interested in specialised PTFE films for proprietary applications, simply contact us today.