Selecting the correct tubing materials is essential for protecting cabling, wiring, and other types of applications from severe working environments and conditions. PTFE, FEP, and Nylon tubing materials feature mechanical properties ideally suited to consistently perform in the harshest conditions. Though there are several distinctions among the materials, they do share some similar properties and are relatively chemically inert.
The material can be fabricated to any specification or form, too. For example, convoluted or corrugated, to meet just about any application requirement. The tubing is used across a variety of industrial sectors such as aerospace, automotive, electrical and electronics, medical, robotics, and automation, as well as for general science and instrumentation applications.
Here’s a closer look at which tubing material is best suited for protecting your cabling and wiring applications:
PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is a synthetic polymer more widely known by its trademarked name, Teflon. Consisting of fluorine and carbon, PTFE is derived from the chemical tetrafluoroethylene (TFE). Its unique properties make it an exceptionally functional material that’s used in a wide variety of product applications.
It is the carbon-fluorine bonds that give PTFE its non-reactive and resistant mechanical properties. Most notably, PTFE’s high melting point of around 327°C makes it ideal for high heat applications. It is hydrophobic, meaning that it is not only resistant to water, but it cannot get wet. It’s also chemically inert to the majority of chemicals and solvents used in industries. It’s noted for its high flexural strength, too, and can flex and bend at both high and low temperatures.
Perhaps its most well-known property is its low coefficient of friction, which is the lowest of any solid material in existence. In other words, to be precise, nothing will stick to it. Common applications for PTFE are in protecting cables and wires from corrosive chemicals or industrial solvents. Where high heat applications are necessary, PTFE tubing excels.
Though fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) shares many of PTFE’s properties, FEP was developed as an enhanced alternative non-stick coating to Teflon. As a copolymer of hexafluoropropylene and tetrafluoroethylene, it offers a similar low coefficient of low friction and non-reactivity to moisture, solvents, and chemicals. It is softer than PTFE, too, with a crystalline melting point of 260°C, but can perform safely between cryogenic temperatures through 204°C.
FEP is more durable than PTFE and offers high wear resistance. It’s highly transparent and UV resistant, as well. As a protective coating, it is impermeable and can withstand different types of chemical actions, oxidation, and common bases or strong acids. Its low permeation properties also provide resistance to vapors and gases. As a tubing material, because of its durability, it is especially beneficial in applications that require high abrasion resistance, exposure to harsh environments, and long-term exposure to direct sunlight.
A thermoplastic material derived from petrochemicals, nylon is a generic name for a group of synthetic polymers known as linear polyamides. Perhaps the most widely known application for nylon is in its use as a synthetic textile. But its exceptional strength, combined with its abrasion and moisture resistance, its durability, elasticity, temperature resilience, and resistance to chemicals, have made Nylon a choice material in many parts and components.
As a tubing material, Nylon is exceptional for high-heat applications. The material is self-extinguishing and does not release any toxic or irritating vapors even if exposed to flame or intense, excessive operating temperatures. In any enclosed working environment where high-heat or where flammable applications are used, Nylon is the recommended protective cable and wire wrap. Lightweight, flexible, and highly resistant to wear, Nylon’s mechanical, chemical, and thermal properties make it an ideal choice for protecting part and component wiring and cables.
M.M. Newman Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer of Heli-Tube® Spirally Cut Cable Wrap, a versatile expandable plastic cable harness. Established in 1956, we offer the widest range of materials, sizes and colors on the market today.