What is a fluoropolymer coating?

A fluoropolymer coating is comprised of fluorocarbons and characterized by carbon-fluorine bonds.

Chemically inert, fluorocarbons are not susceptible to Van der Waals force and this lends to their signature properties: non-stick and friction reducing…(hydrophobic and, at 0.05-0.10, it has one of lowest coefficients of friction).

Owing to the fluorine bonds, fluoropolymers demonstrate a high level of durability as well as resistance to acids, bases and most solvents.

Why are fluoropolymers used?

Fluoropolymers have very specialized properties.

They can include:

  • Being highly hydrophobic (water repellent)
  • Having a high moisture barrier
  • Being highly oleophobic (oil repellent)
  • Having a high chemical resistance
  • Having a high lubricity
  • Having high dielectric properties
  • Suitable for sterilization
  • Providing high corrosion resistance
  • Providing good abrasion / wear resistance

Note, not all fluoropolymers have all of the above properties. But, some coatings can in fact have almost all of the properties.

The fluoropolymers are extremely flexible coatings and becoming more prolifically used throughout engineering.

What sectors are fluoropolymers being used?

The coatings are used in almost all industrial sectors.

They include:

  • Aviation
  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Automotive
  • Industrial
  • Oil & Gas
  • Electronics
  • Medical/Pharmaceutical
  • Optics
  • Telecommunications
  • White goods / Commercial

This list is limited and there are a lot more areas that they are used.

What products are actually coated in fluoropolymers?

Products coated with fluoropolymers include:

  • Circuit boards
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Automotive parts (gears, rotors, pistons)
  • Commercial bake-ware
  • Glassware, labware
  • Machine parts/components
  • Printing equipment
  • Sintered metal parts
  • Catheters, guidewires
  • Fasteners
  • Screen (metal/synthetic)
  • Filter media (cloth, synthetic)
  • O-rings, gaskets, seals
  • Silicone rubber
  • Solenoid, springs, coils

What are five key differences between a fluoropolymer coating (FC) and a conformal coating for protecting an electronic printed circuit board or assembly?

  1. Hydrophobic Properties – A fluoropolymer coating is generally hydrophobic in nature. It repels water when the water is on the surface of the coating.
  2. Extremely thin coating – The fluoropolymer coating is normally applied a lot thinner than a typical liquid conformal coating. This is due to its superior performance when repels liquids
  3. No masking – Due to the extremely thin fluoropolymer coating applied (<1-2um), the components that normally require protecting (connectors, switches etc) from the insulating liquid conformal coating may not need to be masked for the fluoropolymer. The circuit board can be completely submerged in the liquid with no masking applied without fear of damaging the connections.
  4. Simple process – No masking means an extremely fast application process
  5. Fast drying – due to the thin nature of the fluoropolymer coating and the solvents normally used the coating dries extremely quickly.