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2 min read

What is the shelf life of PTFE and Rulon® Materials?

By Dave Biering on May 8, 2020

WWhat is the shelf life of PTFE and Rulon Materials?

This was an excellent question from a customer wondering how long they could store non-etched Rulon materials.

Rulon and PTFE Shelf Life: Key Factors

When handled and stored properly, Rulon has an unlimited shelf life. But when the material is etched, the answer is not quite as simple.

When stored in normal warehouse conditions, all PTFE and Rulon materials have an unlimited shelf life. In fact, a common industry joke is that, at 85 years and counting, PTFE has “not been around long enough” to determine how long it will last! 

But etched-PTFE and Rulon are a different story. The etching process involves reducing the surface lubricity of the polymer in order to bond it to another material. For best results, etched materials must be stored in a black, UV-blocking bag or else the etch will degrade at about six months. The UV bag also protects Rulon materials from damaging ozone and heat exposure, which is common to a warehouse environment. With this protection, etched materials can last a year.

Rulon/Ptfe Degradation: How Can I Tell If My Material Is Degrading?

To determine if your PTFE/Rulon material has degraded, we recommend two methods:

  • Look at the color ― if it has faded to a light brown/tan or has a marbled look, it is no longer a viable manufacturing material.
  • Try a droplet test – add a drop of water and if it rolls around in a ball the material is now hydrophobic and the etch has been lost. If it disperses, than the etch is still hydrophilic and the material is good to go!

Still not sure about the shelf-life of your stored Rulon materials? Need a second opinion? Just connect with the official Rulon experts!

Rulon and PTFE have key advantages over traditional materials in a broad array of applications like bearings. You can learn about these advantages (like self-lubrication and friction coefficients) on our Bearings 101 page.

CONTACT THE TRISTAR TEAM

Topics: Rulon Materials
1 min read

Rulon Bearings in Vacuum Applications

By Dave Biering on November 12, 2014

Rugged Rulon 1337 for slide pads and rolling element retainersRugged Rulon 1337 for slide pads and rolling element retainers

When a major manufacturer of vacuum chambers required a self-lubricating bearing to replace their failing metal components, we knew Rulon® bearings would fit the bill. Our Engineering Experts took a site visit to the client, and recommended Rulon 1337; a material that is comprised solely of FDA-compliant materials, and offers durability and extended service with most mating surfaces. 

Our client’s vacuum chambers are used in a range of applications from food processing to industrial testing. The systems remove air and gases via a suction pump, which, over time, can impact the structural integrity of chamber components. Rugged Rulon 1337 plastic bearings have promoted superior performance in two areas of this demanding application:

Slide pads provide superior support and service

Vacuum chamber bearings are generally constructed of stainless steel or bronze, which many designers mistakenly believe are superior materials. But Rulon 1337 bearings provide the rigid support and load capacity to excel as slide pads in X, Y, Z linear slides, and they rarely need replacement. Since switching to Rulon, our client notes the bearings have provided longer service in this low-pressure environment. 

Rolling element retainers have self-lubricating design

Our client also needed replacement retainers for their rolling element bearings, with a key requirement for maintenance-free service. Rulon 1337 has delivered again, as it features a self-lubricating design, compatibility with most mating surfaces plus good friction and thermal properties. With exceptional resistance to deformation plus solid construction, Rulon 1337 has solved these vacuum chamber challenges! 

Is Rulon 1337 the right choice for your application? Check out our Rulon Materials Comparison Chart to review exact specifications, or explore new applications in our Rulon Technical White Papers

Did you know that TriStar also offers Surface Modification of plastics via vacuum plasma? You can learn more by completing an Application Worksheet. 

Topics: Rulon Materials Rulon 1337
1 min read

Rulon Bearing Tape = 500x Industry Standard for Wear Resistance

By Dave Biering on June 18, 2013

Rulon Bearing TapeWe recently answered a question via our Ask the Experts forum from a client searching for a tape with outstanding wear qualities.  Rulon tapes outperform all products in their category.  In rotation tests, this material offered 500x  wear resistance, and very low friction.  Rulon tapes are available in both low temperature acrylic and high-temperature, clean-release silicone adhesive.

Rulon® tapes are manufactured from skived, PTFE films and are available in thicknesses ranging from 0.002 in. to 0.260 in. Standard widths are 6” or 12” and custom widths are available.   All tapes can be chemically etched to provide a bondable surface and just the right tack strength. 

Consider Rulon tape for use in liners, and chute and rail coverings.  You can also review our Rulon Comparison Chart for specifications on different grades

Topics: Material Selection Rulon Materials High Performance Materials
1 min read

Machining Rulon® - 8 Techniques to Finish Stock Material

By Dave Biering on May 28, 2013

Machining Rulon - 8 Techniques to Finish Stock Material

You’ve identified the ideal Rulon formula for your application, and now need some advice on achieving the best machining technique to fit your application.Before you start experimenting, here are some of the most-common machining methods.

Rulon can be finished by using the following techniques:

  • Cutting
  • Sawing
  • Centerless Grinding
  • Tapping and Threading
  • Reaming
  • Turning and Machining
  • Screw Machining
  • Etching

SURFACE SPEED (F.P.M.): 400 for RULON®

As a rule, we recommend a machining surface speed (F.P.M) of 400. A feed rate of .004 to .006 in. per revolution is ideal when working with stock of 0.125 in. diameter or smaller; the bar will have to be supported during forming either through a center hole or on the side opposite the tool. Very small diameter pieces may require a much larger diameter ground rod to form the required diameter just prior to cut-off. Keep in mind that standard screw machines generally limit bar length to 12’.

Rulon Machining Guidelines

For more on machining plastics, check out our machinining slide presentation or grab our free machining white paper

We can also help you alter the surface of your material to improve adhesion properties of paint or other coatings. Learn more about the advantages of Surface Modification.

Custom Plastic Fabrication: Get the Guide! 

Topics: Rulon Materials Plastics Machining
1 min read

Rulon Plane Bearings and Coefficient of Friction

By Dave Biering on April 16, 2013

Q: We are designing plane bearings made of Rulon®, what are some key considerations in terms of coefficient of friction?
 
A:   This is a question that we hear often regarding Rulon, Ultraflon and other PTFE-filled materials.   The short answer is that these design materials are exceptions to the general rules of friction.  With most materials, you can presume that higher loads and higher speeds would mean higher friction.  But with PTFE-filled materials, the opposite is true; the higher the load and speed, the lower the friction. This is important to keep in mind when designing, since surface contact area can be reduced dramatically to optimize friction properties.  
 
We’ve prepared a Coefficient of Friction video that covers this topic in much greater detail, but also invite you to reach out to Our Experts to review your application needs.

Topics: Rulon Materials Composite Bearings
1 min read

PTFE-filled Fluoroloy H

By Dave Biering on October 16, 2012

Rulon White PaperI recently had a call about Fluoroloy H from one of our engineering partners.  Fluoroloy H is also known as Rulon H, and is one of the leading PTFE-filled products in terms of electrical properties.

The material is a unique combination of both ceramics and PTFE, and was originally developed for UHF heat-sinking applications.   It gives a slightly-better dielectric constant compared to standard Teflon, and has about 8x the thermal conductivity of virgin PTFE.  It is easy to machine and is available in rod, sheet and tape.

Fluoroloy has high insulative properties, and is widely used in the microwave industry as an alternative to virgin and glass-filled PTFE.

Did you know there are over 300 varieties of Rulon?  Download your free copy of our Rulon Whitepaper to learn more about the most-common formulas.

Topics: Rulon Materials

Q&A: How do I identify which Rulon material I have?

By Dave Biering on January 24, 2012

With over 300 different types of Rulon available, this is a question that we hear quite often.  TriStar is the official North American distributor of Rulon, so we have the in-house experts to help you identify and source the right material for your application.

View our video to learn about identifying the three most commonly-used Rulon materials, or download our Rulon white paper now for more information.  At TriStar, we realize the best performance begins with the right material selection.

Topics: Rulon Materials Rulon Plane Bearings Q&A
1 min read

Q&A: Why are PTFE Teflon prices going through the roof?

By Dave Biering on March 9, 2011

All of us in the fluoropolymer business are suffering what could be called a perfect storm of bad news! First, the raw material situation. One of the key ingredients in the processing of fluoropolymers is a mineral called fluorspar. This is a material that is critical in the production of not only fluoropolymers but pharmaceuticals, hydrofluoric acid, refrigerants and any other product that requires a fluorine based stock. China controls most of the worlds resources on this mineral and it became part of a war of words and ultimately manipulation in the world market. Countries, including the USA, are now scrambling to reopen old or open new mining resources of this critical mineral. So this shortage, as well as a worldwide surge in demand for fluoropolymers and a reduction in processors of the PTFE resin, all leads  to this very difficult situation. The bad news is there is no end in sight. The EU has declared fluorspar to be on it’s worldwide shortage list until 2030. So we all  will have to deal with this out of control pricing escalation for years to come. Best if you call Tri Star and place blanket orders for your requirements for the future!!

Topics: Material Selection Rulon Materials
1 min read

TriStar Plastics Named Exclusive Distributor by Saint-Gobain

By Richard Cedrone on July 20, 2010

Rulon, Rulon Bearings, Fluoroloy

TriStar Plastics today announced it has been named as the exclusive, North American distributor of the Rulon®, Rulon® Bearings and Fluoroloy® family of bearing products by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. This exclusive agreement is the culmination of a nearly 30-year partnership between TriStar and Saint-Gobain. "We are honored to broaden our relationship with Saint-Gobain through an exclusive parnership agreement," said Richard Cedrone, CEO of TriStar Plastics. "The Rulon solution offers unique benefits to our customers across a broad-range of industries, including food and beverage, agriculture, medical device and manufacturing. This partnership is a natural step in allowing us to better serve our customers."

Rulon and Fluoroloy bearing materials excel in heavy-duty and high-load applications by offering a combination of low coefficient of friction and excellent abrasion and corrosion-resistance. They also outperform and outlast other materials, including metal, and are self-lubricating for enhanced efficiency and reduced maintenance costs.

"At a time when equipment manufacturers are looking for a competitive edge and a way to reduce expenses, TriStar brings a tremendous amount of knowledge to the table," said Victor Lapinski, North American Distribution Manager at Saint-Gobains' Seals Division. "Their technical expertise, multiple distribution centers, and commitment to customer service make them an ideal choice and an elite business partner." The agreement is effective immediately.

Rulon - Quality Assurance Begins With Precision Processing

Topics: Rulon Materials Rulon Plane Bearings Announcements
1 min read

Recognizing Quality in PTFE Materials

By Dave Biering on September 29, 2009

Molecular weight and crystallinity are two factors in PTFE that determine many of it's performance qualities. Both of these properties are highly dependant on the sintering operation of the PTFE production. If the material is cooked (sintered) too long or at too high a temperature it can degrade the polymer. Molecular weight is a measure of the polymer chain length and it affects flex life, tensile strength and elongation. As molecular weight increases so do these properties and paying attention to gel temperatures and dwell times during sintering is extra critical.

Crystallinity of PTFE can vary considerably depending on processing. This value can be seen in small variations in the specific gravity although in practice most PTFE materials fall in the 50-60 percent crystalline percentage. Increasing crystallinity decreases flex life, increases compressive stress and decreases recovery values, permeability and wear life. Other properties of PTFE, such as thermal, chemical, electrical and friction, are not generally affected by crystallinity changes.

So, sintering and other processing steps do a make a difference in deterimining the quality of PTFE. If you need to maximize the performance of your PTFE parts, including Rulon, Fluorosint, Ultraflon or even generic products, be sure you contact Tri Star Plastics first. We can help you select the right material and the right process.

Topics: Misc Products Rulon Materials Rulon Plane Bearings
1 min read

Rulon 142

By Dave Biering on February 2, 2009

Blog_20090202

Rulon 142 is an excellent material for high load, high speed linear guideway liners for machine tools.

Commonly used as an inexpensive insurance policy to possible lube failures on machines, Rulon 142 is bonded to the dynamic component on the X-Y-Z tables of some of the world's leading machinery builders.

Rulon 142 is also an excellent material for rebuilding machine tools where the efficiency and tolerances have been lost over time.

Easy to install using CE211 or CE211FC adhesives available from stock. Rulon 142 is commonly used as an cost effective alternate to Turcite B and is fabricated using the same techniques.

For more information, visit our Rulon 142 web page and be sure to check out our Shooting Star Archives for a number of articles on Rulon and more!

Rulon - Quality Assurance Begins With Precision Processing

Topics: Rulon Materials