Teflon is a trademarked version of what’s known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)–a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene with many practical industrial and commercial applications. Though PTFE is the general name, it is certainly not uncommon to hear “Teflon” as the oft-used descriptor here (similar to the trademarked brands “Q-Tip” or “Xerox”).
Discovered by accident in 1938 by a DuPont chemist, PTFE is a hydrophobic substance with one of the lowest coefficients of friction of any solid material. In 1949, the product under its trademarked name was first marketed for commercial applications. Today, Teflon is most commonly used as a non-stick coating for pans and cookware. It can also be used as a lubricant of sorts for heavy machinery in industrial applications.
Teflon is relatively soft which makes teflon machining fairly common and not terribly difficult. Teflon fabrication isn’t quite as common, but certain applications do require it and teflon fabricators generally have no issues with the material for these uses either. In terms of Teflon distribution and sales, the product is generally sold in sheets of varying thicknesses or rods of varying diameters. Several grades are available including FDA grade for food processing applications. PTFE is also sold in tape, fabric, and tubing. For more on PFTE or Teflon fabrication applications, contact the plastics experts at JC Finley.