In our decades of experience in the tubing and wire industry, we have never seen the quality issues with PTFE coated wire that we have seen over the past eight months. Combining the strength and durability of stainless steel wire with the lubricity of PTFE, this material has become highly desirable in the medical device industry. Unfortunately, that demand took its toll on the quality of the product in 2018. From a multitude of suppliers, we began seeing inconsistent coating thicknesses, delamination of the PTFE coating, and scratched or scraped sections of the coating throughout the length of the wire. We were failing lot after lot of material at incoming inspection from sources we’ve used and trusted for years. New coating suppliers, who were entering the business after seeing the sudden and explosive growth in the industry, were releasing the product while their coating methods and techniques had not yet been perfected. Inferior products were released, and it didn’t take long for distributors to realize these new releases were not the quality of product they had received in the past.
Unfortunately, we have not seen this problem completely remedied in the first part of 2019. We have worked hard with our coaters to ensure the consistency of coating as well as manageable lead times, but quality and supply issues are still surfacing. At Component Supply, we want to put material on the shelf that eliminates these potential issues, but it has taken a huge investment in time and resources to work through the coating process, find the right supplier, and get the quantities we need in our inventory.
As the industry continues to grow and adjust to the demand of this product, we suggest you plan even further ahead, keeping longer lead times in mind. If you need a supplier or would like the opportunity to speak with someone about the lead times for PTFE coated wire, we would be happy to help you plan your buying for the year and ensure you are going to get the quality of product you expect.