Helping customers move from PTFE to PFA
In our last post, we looked at the advantages of moving from machined polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to injection molded perfluoroalkoxy (PFA) material. While making the jump to PFA sounds good in principle (and looks good on paper), what about when it comes to helping customers solve real-world manufacturing and production challenges?
Let’s meet Levitronix GmbH. They’re a Zurich, Switzerland-based company and the world leader in manufacturing pumps designed for ultrapure fluid handling. Levitronix markets its pumps to an array of customers in the microelectronics, pharmaceutical biotechnology and chemical processing industries. The company recently developed a new, uniquely designed high-flow pump capable of extremely low particle generation – a key feature in limiting contamination.
The first version of the pump produced by Levitronix was built almost entirely with CNC-machined PTFE components. However, the company was looking to transition to injection molded PFA parts. Why? Using PFA material could provide several major benefits, including improved surface finishes and a more efficient, cost-effective manufacturing process. Injection molded PFA products can be faster and less expensive to produce than their PTFE counterparts.
How Savillex stepped in to help
Levitronix collaborated with Savillex to help make their switch to PFA materials a success. The company’s initial designs for their high flow pump used machined PTFE components, which make it difficult to scale production.
As a first step, Levitronix identified several pump components that could be switched to molded PFA. Next, our team of Savillex engineers worked with Levitronix to create new, molded PFA designs for various pump components. This required engineers to consider several factors, such as uniform wall thickness, to avoid PFA parts becoming warped and defective over time. Fillets, gating and flow analysis were also utilized to arrive at final molded PFA part designs. Lastly, special tooling was designed and constructed to produce the new injection molded parts.
Where certain pump components couldn’t be injection molded due to material tolerance constraints, Savillex drew on its secondary manufacturing capabilities (that include custom CNC machining and non-contact infrared welding) to get the job done. Ultimately, Levitronix was able to transition its new high-flow pump product from a machined PTFE version to an improved and more cost-efficient molded PFA design.
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