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ePTFE Explained: Fundamentals and Applications

Expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, or ePTFE, is PTFE that has been mechanically expanded to produce a unique material. ePTFE’s microscale architecture highlights its porous nature for applications ranging from filtration to medical and implantable structures. This presentation introduces ePTFE, its properties, and provides a cross-sectional overview of its many diverse applications.



Originally presented: October 17, 2018
Duration: 1 hour
Presented by:

Overview

In this presentation, you will find out how a typically difficult-to-extrude material like PTFE is transformed into a soft and highly flexible material. Learn about the various morphologies of ePTFE such as uniaxial and biaxial orientation and how Zeus can control these aspects. With such diversity and flexibility, ePTFE can reach almost every application environment. Extruding PTFE for more than 50 years, Zeus has the expertise and innovation mindset to bring forth new products while continually striving to improve established ones.

Polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, has been known for more than 60 years as a non-stick coating applied to cookware. This non-melt processable polymer gained new life in the late 1960's when a mechanically expanded form of PTFE was produced. Expanded PTFE, or simply ePTFE, is a microporous material. Because ePTFE originates as PTFE, these two materials share many of the same high-performing properties. With features such as very broad chemical resistance, temperature tolerance to 260° C (500° F) or more, biocompatibility, exceptional insulating qualities, and very low water absorption, ePTFE takes those properties to places where ordinary PTFE cannot go.

As a microporous material ePTFE has many attributes all its own. Close inspection of ePTFE reveals its unique architecture composed of many nodes and fibrils creating its porous structure. This feature not only affects ePTFE at the macro scale, creating a uniquely soft and pliable material, but has profound effects upon the material at the micro scale. With pore sizes small enough to keep cells out or allow them to penetrate, ePTFE has gained widespread use in applications ranging from filtration to sterilization to implantable structures within the body. Furthermore, the "spring-back" nature of this soft material has led to its use in many niche and specialized applications to take advantage of this property.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn how the unique chemical structure of PTFE benefits both PTFE and ePTFE
  • Discover how a PTFE coating can be transformed into an entirely different material
  • Learn the fine points of ePTFE architecture: nodes, fibrils, and pore size
  • Find out how the porous nature of ePTFE translates to its diverse applications - from automotive applications to filtration sterilization to implantable structures in the body
  • Discover how ePTFE's unique form allows it to be adapted to a broad range of niche and unexpected applications

Speaker

Kevin J. Bigham, PhD, Technical Writer, Zeus Industrial Products, Inc.

Dr. Bigham's background in the sciences began at the College of Charleston where he earned undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry. From there, Dr. Bigham trained at the Medical University of South Carolina earning his PhD in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and has published works in these areas. Dr. Bigham joined Zeus in 2016 and uses his diverse scientific knowledge to produce varied content for the company's technical and lay audiences around the globe.