New Products Go Teflon Tough: 5 Engineering Innovations

Posted: Apr 29 2018, 1:39am CDT | by


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New Products Go Teflon Tough: 5 Engineering Innovations

An Old Product Takes New Steps: 5 New Uses For Teflon

Teflon has been around since 1938, but despite its long history, engineers are still devising new applications for the material. So what’s going on with the non-stick magician beyond coating pans? From medical tools to enhanced paints and easy-to-clean fabrics, countless materials are now imbued with this classic lubricant.

Helping Enhance Healthcare

Healthcare is one of the leading areas of growth for Teflon use, in particular because it improves medical device operability. As Bruce Nesbitt of Orion Technologies explains, Teflon is increasing applied to guide wires and medical tubing, device handles, and even dental drills, simplifying medical procedures. The average individual also encounters Teflon-coated needles for immunizations and IVs – the coating makes need insertion hurt less. Healthcare as we know it couldn’t operate without Teflon.

Keeping Fabrics Clean

Most people associate stain-resistant fabrics with Scotchgard, the popular coating used on carpets and furniture to keep them clean and extend their lifespan. What most don’t realize, though, is that Teflon and Scotchgard are chemically very similar. Many companies actually use Teflon instead of Scotchgard to protect their fabrics, including on children’s clothes and assorted linens.

So how do you coat a fabric in Teflon without ending up with a hard, slick sheet? The reality is that fabrics aren’t coated in Teflon, but treated with it to make them liquid repellent and help prevent staining. This is the process used to make Occitan Import’s French tablecloths easy to clean; the fabric is imbued with Teflon but you won’t feel it on the surface. Waitstuff’s uniform polo shirts are treated with a similar process, keeping the wearer looking tidy no matter what the day brings. And really, who doesn’t know someone who could use a little Teflon-based assistance when it comes to beating stains?

Teflon-infused paints, a partnership between Vitex and Chemours, have a similar function to Teflon-infused fabrics: easy cleaning. By creating a unique blend of traditional paint and Teflon’s lubricating properties, engineers can create paint that repels fingerprints, dirt, and is easy to wipe down when toddlers attack.

Speed and Precision

Because Teflon is a kind of lubricant, it’s ideal for reducing vehicle drag and reducing machine friction, so it’s no surprise that Norwegian engineers turned to Teflon to design a record-breaking snow sledge. Designed to travel at a goal speed of 115 mph, the sledge will nearly double the current record and exceed the terminal velocity of a freefalling skydiver. The use of Teflon makes it possible for the sled to push past traditional friction limits, and the same can be said about many others engineering applications where friction poses a problem.

Take self-lubricating bearings as an example. The different bearings inside complex machines do a lot of work and have to move smoothly throughout, but having to stop to lubricate them can really throw a wrench in the works. Bearings referred to as “lube for life” use native Teflon to keep the pieces moving smoothly. By steadily transferring microscopic amounts of Teflon to the mating surfaces, there’s no longer any reason to slow down and manually lubricate the parts.

Engineers continue to develop new applications for Teflon, so if there’s a material whose durability you’ve questioned, just wait – Teflon may be coming to the rescue. Why deal with dirt, stains, and rust when Teflon can fight it all?

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/68" rel="author">Larry Alton</a>
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.




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