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The unique properties of the transparent plastic PFA

From day one Polyfluor has been supplying PFA products for a variety and a wide range of high performance applications. Through the years we have seen a growing demand for this material, primarily due to the expansion of industries where this fluoropolymer is widely used. In this article, we are excited to share more about PFA and what makes it a unique material. We spoke with Erwin Volkers, sales manager at Polyfluor, about the characteristics of this material and the applications it can be used in.

What is PFA?

PFA stands for perfluoroalkoxy and belongs to the fluoropolymer family. Like other fluoropolymer materials, PFA is a carbon-fluorine compound where some of the fluorine atoms in the chain are replaced by alkoxy groups. This makes PFA transparent, whereas PTFE is naturally milky white.

The three properties that make PFA so remarkable

PFA combines several characteristics of PTFE and FEP and shares many similarities with these materials. We highlight three properties that make PFA special:

Melting ability

One of the remarkable features of PFA is its resistance to high temperatures and its melting ability. PFA retains its properties up to a working temperature of 260 °C. At a temperature of 315 °C, PFA becomes molten, making it suitable for the production of injection-molded products. "For example, PFA couplings are made using this method", Erwin explains.

High surface density

Thanks to the dense surface of PFA, molecules have a much harder time passing through it compared to PTFE. Erwin explains: "For this reason, PFA is often used in heat exchangers, for example. The plates on which chips are printed are cleaned with chemicals that work best at a specific temperature. However, the tank where the chemicals are stored is not suitable for that temperature. Therefore, it needs to be heated up in the process. From the tank, the chemicals pass through small tubes, alongside a second tube where hot water runs through. To prevent the chemicals from ending up in the water, it's essential for that tube to have high chemical resistance and density. At the same time, the wall must be thin enough to allow heat to pass through. PFA is ideal for this purpose."

Pure material

PFA has high purity and flexibility, making it highly suitable for the semiconductor industry. Standard PFA is already pure enough for most applications, but for cases where extremely high purity is required, it is possible to produce PFA that is even purer than the standard.

Adding colour or carbon to PFA

It is possible to add color to PFA, for instance, when it is important to distinguish between hoses. The material remains transparent, allowing the substances passing through it to remain visible. "Sometimes, carbon is also added to PFA to make it antistatic. However, this is not very common because in such cases, we would typically opt for a different material," says Erwin.

Curious about the possibilities of PFA for your application?

Our specialists are ready to collaborate with you to find the right material for the application you have in mind. If you want to learn more about PFA or make an inquiry, please get in touch with us.