Unravelling Polymers

The Definitive Blog on Polymers by Poly Fluoro Ltd.

Polymers in Metal Replacement

As technological and industrial landscapes undergo transformations, more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective materials are always emerging. Among these, polymers are emerging as frontrunners, challenging the traditional dominance of metals in various applications.

The shift towards polymers in applications traditionally dominated by metals is driven by several compelling advantages that polymers offer, including:

Weight Reduction: Polymers are significantly lighter than metals, which is a critical factor in automotive and aerospace industries where weight reduction translates to improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

Corrosion Resistance: Unlike metals, polymers are inherently resistant to corrosion, reducing the need for protective coatings and maintenance.

Cost Efficiency: The production and processing of polymers can be less expensive than metals, especially when considering the lifecycle costs including maintenance and durability. Although pound for pound, polymers do tend to be far more expensive (especially when we consider plastics like PEEK and PTFE), the weight reduction combined with ease of manufacture can potentially lower costs.

Design Flexibility: Polymers can be easily moulded into complex shapes, allowing for more innovative design possibilities compared to metals.

Insulating Properties: Polymers are excellent insulators of electricity and heat, making them indispensable in electrical and electronic applications.

The benefits of using polymers are usually derived through a case-by-case analysis of the applications involved. However, some industries have naturally gravitated towards polymers, as a result of the above reasons.

Automotive and Aerospace

In the automotive and aerospace sectors, the drive for fuel efficiency and emission reduction is a powerful motivator for the adoption of polymers. Polymers are being used to fabricate components such as fuel tanks, bumpers, interior panels, and even structural components in aircraft. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350, for instance, feature airframes that include significant amounts of carbon fiber-reinforced polymers, offering unmatched strength-to-weight ratios compared to metals.

Medical Devices

The biomedical field is another area where polymers are replacing metals, owing to their biocompatibility, flexibility, and the ability to be sterilized. Polymers are used in a wide array of medical devices, including catheters, implants, and enclosures for medical instruments, providing improved patient comfort and outcomes.


The electronics industry has embraced polymers for their insulating properties and flexibility. Polymers are used in the insulation of cables, components of electronic devices, and as substrates for flexible electronics. Their lightweight nature and versatility also enable the development of innovative products such as wearable devices and foldable screens.


In construction, polymers are increasingly used in place of metals for applications such as piping, roofing, and insulation. Polymer-based materials offer advantages in terms of ease of installation, resistance to corrosion, and thermal insulation properties, contributing to more energy-efficient buildings.

While there do exist an number of polymers that would, in their own way, be suitable candidates for metal replacement in a given application, the below three are the ones we see the future developing around:

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

PTFE, best known by the brand name Teflon, is a fluoropolymer with exceptional chemical resistance, low friction, and high-temperature tolerance. In industrial settings, PTFE is prized for its resistance to corrosive substances, making it an excellent choice for seals, gaskets, and linings in chemical processing equipment, where metal counterparts would suffer from corrosion. Furthermore, its low friction coefficient is beneficial in the manufacturing of bearings and gears, particularly in applications where lubrication is undesirable or impractical.

Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK)

PEEK is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic with a unique combination of strength, heat resistance, and chemical stability. Its ability to retain mechanical properties at temperatures up to 250°C, coupled with its resistance to aggressive chemicals, makes PEEK an excellent metal substitute in harsh environments. In the aerospace industry, PEEK is used to manufacture components such as seals, bushings, and fasteners, contributing to weight reduction without compromising performance. The medical field also benefits from PEEK's biocompatibility, where it is used in the production of surgical instruments, spinal fusion devices, and dental implants, offering an alternative to metals that may cause allergic reactions or interfere with medical imaging.


Polyimide is a polymer known for its exceptional thermal stability, electrical insulation, and mechanical strength over a wide temperature range. These properties make polyimide an invaluable material in the electronics industry, where it is used in the fabrication of flexible printed circuits and insulation for high-temperature applications. Additionally, its resistance to radiation and vacuum compatibility makes it an ideal choice for space applications, including insulation for spacecraft and satellites. In the automotive sector, polyimide films are employed in sensors and components exposed to high temperatures, showcasing its versatility as a metal replacement.

Future Perspectives

The future of polymers is incredibly promising, with ongoing research focused on enhancing their properties and expanding their applications. Innovations in polymer science, such as the development of high-performance thermoplastics and bio-based polymers, are paving the way for polymers to replace metals in even more demanding applications. Moreover, the environmental benefits 

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2. Enhancing Electrical Systems: The Versatility of PTFE Busbar Supports

3. Enhancing PTFE Performance - Ekanol, ATSP and their synergies in PTFE properties

Advancements in Aerospace - High-Performance Plastics Take Flight

Along with the medical industry, the aerospace industry is peculiar in that it demands materials with a variety of capabilities and does not often see cost as a key criterion as long as the key properties are met.

Aerospace parts must be able withstand extreme conditions while maintaining lightweight properties to enhance performance and fuel efficiency. There is also no leeway on quality, as the parts must conform to the requirements 100% of the time over a prolonged period of time.

While many polymers are well suited to be applied to the aerospace industry, the stringent quality requirements have meant that in order to prove themselves, polymers have had to go through multiple long-cycle test to be found worthy.

In recent years, many high-performance plastics have emerged in this way and have become essential components in aerospace applications. These polymers offer a unique combination of durability, versatility, and weight reduction. Among these materials, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyimide, Ultem, and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) have garnered significant attention for their diverse applications in aircraft design and manufacturing. This article explores the various roles and benefits of these high-performance plastics in aerospace technology.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE):

PTFE, commonly known by the brand name Teflon, is renowned for its low friction, chemical resistance, and high-temperature stability. Although much heavier than most polymers – PTFE’s specific gravity of 2.2 makes it only slightly lighter than aluminium – PTFE’s properties make it wildly useful in high-stress applications.

In aerospace applications, PTFE finds extensive use in critical components such as seals, bearings, and electrical insulation. Its exceptional lubricity allows for smooth movement in mechanical systems, reducing wear and frictional losses. Additionally, PTFE's resistance to corrosion and harsh chemicals makes it an ideal material for seals and gaskets in hydraulic systems, ensuring reliability and longevity in aircraft operations.

PTFE is also extensively used in its expanded for. Expanded PTFE (ePTFE) is a unique material that is pure PTFE, but that can be made with a specific gravity as low as 0.3. This material lends itself to gasket applications and can form an effective seal at very low pressures. So sought after is ePTFE in aerospace that exists a specific aerospace standard - AMS3660E – that defines the properties of the material needed when being used in aircrafts.

Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK):

PEEK is a high-performance thermoplastic known for its excellent mechanical properties, including high strength, stiffness, and heat resistance. These characteristics make PEEK an attractive material for aerospace applications where structural integrity and reliability are paramount. In aircraft construction, PEEK is used in components such as brackets, fasteners, and interior panels, offering lightweight alternatives to metal counterparts without compromising performance. Its ability to withstand high temperatures and harsh environments makes PEEK an ideal choice for engine components, including seals, bearings, and insulation, contributing to enhanced efficiency and durability in aircraft propulsion systems.

PEEK is also very lightweight. In aerospace, where weight reduction is paramount, PEEK – which at a specific gravity of 1.35 is half the weight of aluminium – brings a very impressive weight to strength ratio that allows it to be used as a metal replacement part in many applications within aerospace and even beyond.


Polyimide, also known as Kapton or Vespel, is a versatile polymer prized for its exceptional thermal stability, electrical insulation, and chemical resistance. In aerospace technology, polyimide films and coatings find widespread use in electrical wiring, insulation, and thermal protection applications. Its ability to withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -269°C to over 400°C makes polyimide an indispensable material for spacecraft, satellites, and aircraft exposed to harsh environmental conditions. 

Like PEEK, Polyimide's lightweight nature and flexibility enable the design of compact and efficient electrical systems, reducing overall weight and improving fuel efficiency in aerospace vehicles.


Ultem, or PEI, is a high-temperature thermoplastic resin, offering a unique combination of strength, heat resistance, and flame retardancy, making it suitable for a wide range of aerospace applications. Its exceptional mechanical properties, including high modulus and impact resistance, make Ultem an ideal material for structural components, including brackets, housings, and interior panels in aircraft and spacecraft. Ultem's ability to maintain dimensional stability at elevated temperatures ensures reliable performance in demanding environments, such as engine compartments and cabin interiors. Furthermore, Ultem's flame-retardant properties enhance safety in aerospace applications, mitigating the risk of fire propagation and ensuring compliance with stringent regulatory standards.

Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF):

PVDF is a high-performance fluoropolymer known for its exceptional chemical resistance, UV stability, and mechanical properties. In aerospace technology, PVDF finds diverse applications in areas such as fuel systems, coatings, and structural components. Its resistance to harsh chemicals and weathering makes PVDF an ideal material for fuel lines, tanks, and seals, ensuring the integrity and reliability of aerospace propulsion systems. Additionally, PVDF coatings provide durable protection against corrosion and erosion in aircraft structures, extending the service life of critical components and reducing maintenance requirements. PVDF's lightweight nature and ease of processing offer design flexibility and cost-effective solutions for aerospace manufacturers seeking to optimize performance and efficiency.


High-performance plastics such as PTFE, PEEK, polyimide, Ultem, and PVDF have revolutionized aerospace technology, offering lightweight, durable, and versatile solutions for a wide range of applications. From structural components to electrical systems and thermal protection, these materials play essential roles in enhancing the performance, efficiency, and safety of aircraft and spacecraft. As aerospace engineering continues to advance, high-performance plastics will remain integral to the development of innovative solutions that push the boundaries of flight and exploration.

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2. Enhancing PTFE Performance - Ekanol, ATSP and their synergies in PTFE properties

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Enhancing Electrical Systems: The Versatility of PTFE Busbar Supports

The growth of Electric Vehicles (EVs) has necessitated the use of materials more attuned to the management of current than that of fuel. Whereas the combustion engine was all about maximising fuel efficiency, with EVs the challenge lies in minimizing the leakage of current and improving the range a vehicle can obtain in a single charge.

A crucial and often overlooked component in all this is the humble busbar. These conductive strips serve as a pathway for electrical current within the vehicle's power distribution system. As the demand for EVs grows, the need for more efficient and reliable busbar insulation becomes increasingly evident. Among the various materials used for busbar supports, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) stands out for its unique combination of properties and versatile applications.

PTFE, commonly known by its brand name Teflon, is a fluoropolymer renowned for its exceptional electrical insulation, chemical resistance, and low friction characteristics. These properties make PTFE an ideal material for busbar supports, where it can effectively isolate electrical conductors from their surroundings while providing mechanical support and stability.

One of the primary advantages of PTFE busbar supports is their outstanding electrical insulation properties. PTFE exhibits high dielectric strength, allowing it to withstand high voltages without electrical breakdown or leakage. This property is crucial for maintaining the integrity of electrical connections and preventing short circuits or other electrical faults. Additionally, PTFE's low dielectric constant minimizes signal distortion and loss, making it particularly well-suited for high-frequency applications common in modern electrical systems.

Furthermore, PTFE is highly resistant to chemical corrosion and degradation, even in harsh environments. Unlike metal or organic materials that may corrode or deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture, chemicals, or extreme temperatures, PTFE remains unaffected. This inherent chemical inertness ensures the long-term reliability and durability of PTFE busbar supports, making them suitable for a wide range of industrial and automotive applications.

Another notable advantage of PTFE busbar supports is their low friction coefficient. PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction among solid materials, resulting in minimal resistance to movement or sliding. This property is particularly beneficial in applications where busbars need to be inserted, removed, or adjusted regularly, as it reduces wear and frictional losses. Additionally, the low friction surface of PTFE busbar supports facilitates smooth and effortless installation, minimizing the risk of damage to electrical components or insulation.

Moreover, PTFE busbar supports offer excellent mechanical strength and dimensional stability. Despite its relatively low density, PTFE exhibits high tensile strength and resistance to deformation under load. This allows PTFE busbar supports to withstand mechanical stress and vibration without compromising their structural integrity or electrical insulation properties. Additionally, PTFE maintains dimensional stability over a wide temperature range, ensuring precise tolerances and consistent performance in varying operating conditions.

The versatility of PTFE extends beyond its electrical and mechanical properties to its ease of fabrication and customization. PTFE busbar supports can be easily machined, with inserts being embedded into the material to aid mechanical strength. The design can be customized to meet the client’s application and small batch manufacturing is also possible, since no moulds or dies are needed. Whether it's a simple standoff or a custom-designed support with intricate features, PTFE can be tailored to suit the unique needs of each electrical system.

In conclusion, PTFE busbar supports offer a compelling combination of electrical insulation, chemical resistance, low friction, and mechanical strength, making them indispensable components in modern electrical systems. Whether in industrial automation, telecommunications, automotive, or renewable energy applications, PTFE busbar supports provide the reliability, durability, and performance required for critical electrical connections. As the demand for efficient and reliable electrical systems continues to grow, the versatility and effectiveness of PTFE busbar supports will undoubtedly remain unmatched.

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1. Enhancing PTFE Performance - Ekanol, ATSP and their synergies in PTFE properties

2. Optimizing Solar Tracker Bearings for Enhanced Solar Energy Harvesting

3. PEEK Vs Polyimide - Comparing Two of the Toughest Polymers