Demand for PTFE Coated Wire Causes Quality Problems

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.


The Medical Device and Electrical Industries Use PTFE Tubing

PTFE tubing, or Teflon® tubing, is useful for a variety of applications and purposes in several industries, including the medical device and electrical industries. This type of tubing has low friction, good electrical insulation properties, is chemically inert, and satisfies biocompatibility requirements. The tubing can be used for applications where wires are passed through the interior of the tubing, or may be used on its own for fluid delivery applications. Teflon® has a high temperature range, so it is suited for both extreme cold and hot environments, as well as wet conditions.

A Few Applications Where PTFE Tubing Is Used

One application for PTFE tubing is to use it as part of guide wire assemblies. These assemblies are used in a variety of products, such as prosthetics. Guide wires are also incorporated in some devices as a switching mechanism. Another application for this type of tubing is to act as a protective barrier, while a secondary object is safely passed through the tubing to the other side. For instance, in laboratory experiments, a small infrared camera may need to be used to map and identify specific molecules suspended in a liquid. Since the camera might become damaged if exposed directly to the liquid or be destroyed by harsh chemicals, the tubing creates a barrier to avoid damaging the camera, as well as prevents from contaminating the sample. In addition to these applications, Teflon® tubing has been used in printers for roll covers, and to create covers used on medical and surgical tools.

PTFE Tubing Is Available in Standard and Custom Lengths

PTFE tubing provides several benefits when used for the appropriate environments and applications. It offers low friction, biocompatibility, and good electrical insulation. This product can also be used in place of metal tubing in creating guide wire assemblies. The tubing is offered in standard wall, thin wall and light wall, with standard 50 foot and 100 foot lengths available. You are also able to have the tubing custom cut to specific lengths for your applications. Our secondary finishing operations have the ability to cut the tubing to the desired lengths. We are able to maintain the integrity of the tubing, even while dealing with tight tolerances, and to ensure the cuts remain straight. We are able to supply small quantities of our standard wall tubing, as well as customized cuts for testing prior to ordering large amounts of the tubing, to ensure it meets your project needs and requirements.

PTFE Tubing Has Many Different Applications and Uses

Medical industries use PTFE tubing in the manufacture of medical devices and covers for medical and surgical tools. Electronic industries use the tubing as an insulating material where electrical wiring is passed through the interior of the tubing, and it may be used in place of other types of coatings on the outside of the wire. Printer manufacturers used this kind of tubing as roll covers that direct how paper is fed through the printer. You will even find Teflon® tubing being used in harsh environments and conditions, because it is designed to be used in both extreme hot and cold temperatures, is resistant to chemicals, as well as water, and prevents the outside layer from deteriorating from exposure in these conditions.

Several Industries Use PTFE Tubing for Various Purposes

Industries which use PTFE tubing include automobile manufacturers, chemical processing plants, medical equipment manufacturers and electrical supply manufacturers. The reason this kind of tubing is used by all of these industries is because of its useful properties. PTFE is able to withstand extreme temperature conditions, both hot and cold. PTFE also is resistant to corrosion from many types of liquids, including water and chemicals, and makes a great insulating material.

PTFE Tubing and PTFE Shrink Tubing Are Made from Teflon® but Perform Differently 

PTFE tubing is not the same as PTFE heat shrink tubing. While both materials are made from Teflon®, they perform differently. Heat shrink tubing reduces in size when the correct level of heat is applied. On the other hand, regular Teflon® tubing does not shrink. If a large amount of heat is applied, it will melt. The amount of heat required to melt Teflon® tubing is around 650 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the high melting point, this makes using Teflon® tubing ideal for extreme conditions and environments.

High Temperature Fluids Can Be Pumped Through PTFE Tubing

One application for PTFE tubing is to use for pumping high temperature fluids and lubricants through machinery. Since its melting point is over 600 degree Fahrenheit, the tubing will not melt as temperatures for most kinds of machinery and the fluids being pumped through the tubing are well below this level. This type of tubing is also suited for pumping fluids in cold environments as it protects fluids from freezing.

Chemical and Laboratory Industries Use PTFE Tubing for Research and Experiments

PTFE tubing is chemically inert which makes it suited for using in laboratory and chemical research and experiments. Different types of acids, bases, organic compounds and other fluids can be passed through the tubing without risk of the tubing failing. This kind of tubing is frequently used in place of glass because of its much larger working temperature range. Using this tubing also removes the risks associated when working with glass in extremely hot or cold processes.

PTFE Tubing Is Not Designed to Be Shrunk like PTFE Heat Shrink Tubing

It is important to remember PTFE tubing is not the same thing as PTFE heat shrink tubing. While both products do use Teflon® in their construction they perform and behave differently. Heat shrink tubing will reduce in size around the items where it is being applied once it reaches the correct shrinking point. Regular Teflon® tubing on the other hand is not designed to be shrunk and maintains its size, as long as it is not exposed extremely high temperatures above 635 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some Applications Combine PTFE Tubing with Other Materials to Create Finished Goods

You can use PTFE tubing by itself or along with other materials with the production and manufacture of your finished goods. For instance, you are able to pass hypodermic tube through the interior of Teflon® tubing to create wire guide assemblies. You could also run electrical wiring through the interior of the tubing to increase the amount of insulation or to protect the wiring from deteriorating from exposure in corrosive environments.

PTFE Tubing Has Unique Properties Suited for a Variety of Applications

PTFE tubing is a fluoropolymer tubing, specifically polytertafluoroethylene, commonly known as Teflon® by Dupont. You can use this tubing for a variety of applications and purposes in various industries including medical and electrical fields. The tubing has unique properties which makes it suited for both hot and cold environments while retaining its integrity. Teflon tubing is resistant to corrosion, chemically inert, resistant to bases, acids and all common solvents.

There Are Different Wall Thicknesses Offered in PTFE Tubing
PTFE tubing is available in different wall thicknesses include standard wall, think wall and light wall. The wall thickness could be important depending upon the types of materials being passed through the interior of the tubing. You can obtain a small sampling of different wall thicknesses in your preferred AWG size to test with, in order to determine which one is best suited for your environment.

Test Wall Sizes of PTFE Tubing to Find the Size You Require

PTFE tubing is available in both standard wall and light wall sizes. The difference between these two types of tubing is in the wall sizes. A standard wall AWG size 1 has a wall size of approximately 0.020 inches, while a light wall AWG size 1 has a wall size of approximately 0.010 inches. In order to determine which wall size will work best for your applications, you should test various sizes.

PTFE Tubing Can Be Used in Different Ways to Fit Several Applications

PTFE tubing can be used for various applications in different industries. This type of tubing can have wires inserted through the inside opening to provide electrical insulation. You can use this tubing in place of other methods for fluids and gases. The tubing can also be cut to custom sizes and used by itself in certain products, like roll covers.

PTFE Tubing Has a Wide Working Temperature Range

PTFE tubing can be used for a variety of purposes, functions and applications. The temperature range of Teflon makes it suited for demanding processes, and extreme conditions. It can handle temperatures ranging from as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 454 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of tubing can also be used to provide a protective barrier around wiring and cable, as it is resistant to all common solvents, bases and acids.


Liquids and Gases Can Be Fed Through PTFE Tubing


In addition to being used for wire and cable insulation, PTFE tubing can be used with liquids and gases. In the automotive industry, this type of tubing can be used to provide fluids and fuels to different areas in your vehicle. In the food production industry, it can be used to deliver water and other liquid ingredients during preparation processes. In the medical industry, Teflon tubing can be used to transfer oxygen from a tank to a patient, through a breathing machine.

PTFE Tubing Can Be Purchased by Itself or Already Assembled with Other Materials

Depending on how you intend to use PTFE tubing, you have different options available. In cases where you will be using it as a protective covering over wiring, used in healthcare devices, you can purchase the tubing already applied to medical wires. You can also obtain this type of tubing available in different size guide wire assemblies. By purchasing the tubing already in place, it helps save you time and allows you to keep up with your production schedules.

The Wall Size of PTFE Tubing Refers to the Thickness of the Teflon

PTFE tubing is available in different wall sizes for your various applications and processes. The thing to remember when selecting the wall size you require, is that the nominal inner diameter will be the same for each type of wall. For example, the nominal inner diameter of AWG size 24 is 0.022 inches. This measurement will be the same for standard wall, thin wall and light wall tubing. The difference in the wall size has to do with the actual thickness of the Teflon.