The Surprising Versatility of Fluoropolymers in Aerospace
The unique benefits of fluoropolymers open up the possibility for a variety of applications for aerospace manufacturers.
The highly competitive aerospace industry is constantly pushing the boundaries of technology to enhance performance, safety, and efficiency. One key ingredient in this pursuit of excellence is the use of advanced materials, among which fluoropolymers have emerged as a standout. Let’s take a dive into the benefits and versatile applications that fluoropolymers have in the aerospace world.
Although fluoropolymers have been a staple in the aerospace industry for decades, their use has generally been limited to a certain set of finite components. In a blog post from 2020, however, we hinted at the opportunity fluoropolymers had to “take flight” within the industry – and since then, even more eyes are opening to the expanded application potential that they have. Some of the unique benefits that make this possible include:
- Enhanced chemical resistance – They provide outstanding resistance to chemicals, solvents, and extreme temperatures, which is crucial during exposure to harsh environmental conditions.
- High lubricity – Fluoropolymers have a low coefficient of friction, allowing them to reduce wear and tear in moving parts, improve efficiency, and extend lifespan of critical components.
- Exceptional electrical insulation – They also possess great dielectric properties, making them a robust insulating material for wiring, connectors, and other electrical components.
- Fire and heat resistance – Fluoropolymers can withstand high temperatures without producing toxic gases or compromising structural integrity, as they possess outstanding fire resistance properties along with excellent thermal stability.
- Long life – They have a very long service lifetime and do not degrade or become embrittled with heat or UV exposure.
Reach a new horizon in aerospace with ultra-pure PFA.
At Savillex, we specialize in the use of injection-molded PFA (perfluoroalkoxy) fluoropolymers; specifically, ultra-pure PFA grade resins from Daikin and Chemours. In addition to the benefits listed above, PFAs also have an extremely wide temperature range (-200oC to 260oC), have less cold flow (creep) and can achieve tight tolerances and high quality surface finishes with a combination of molding and secondary operations. (Click here to read our PFAS statement.)
Any component used in aerospace that is currently manufactured from a fluoropolymer like PTFE potentially can be made more precisely and inexpensively from PFA. Furthermore, our manufacturing capabilities allow us to supply components in all shapes and sizes to aerospace industry clients – whether machined, molded, or welded. Complex geometries, which are often required in aerospace, are also no problem.
So, what are some specific components that Savillex can manufacture in aerospace?
Fuel and Hydraulic Systems
In crucial areas like a plane’s fuel delivery system and its hydraulic lines, fluoropolymers like PFA are inert and non-reactive – even when completely immersed in jet fuel. Their extremely high lubricity means they can be used as bushings (linear bearings), with many years’ operating lifetime. PFA provides the ideal solution to retaining fuel and hydraulic lines within composite wings, through PFA molded inserts.
Strengthening Lightweight Critical Equipment
While being lightweight is crucial for aircraft fuel efficiency, safety takes precedence when it comes to critical equipment. Fluoropolymers can also add a significant amount of robustness to lighter components like wing leads, oil lines, seals, and O-rings, helping to ensure safety and reliability.
Fluoropolymers are being used for containment solutions in the lavatory and galley due to their high maximum temperature capability. Their high melting point allows designers to meet fire suppression regulations more easily than with other polymers.
Fluoropolymers have made significant contributions in enhanced performance, safety, and efficiency for many aerospace industry manufacturers. Their lightweight yet durable properties, combined with exceptional resistance to chemicals, heat, and electrical insulation, have allowed for advancements in design, fuel efficiency, and overall reliability. As the aerospace industry continues to evolve, we can expect fluoropolymers to play an increasingly significant role in pushing the boundaries and opening up new frontiers in aviation technology.
Click here to learn more about Savillex’s aerospace manufacturing capabilities and to get the process underway for your organization.