PTFE Vs. TFE: An ultimate guide on PTFE wires and cables

About PTFE Vs. TFE, Today the sealing industry has several brand names.

Also, there’s always new technical jargon, so keeping up is hard.

A good example of such jargon is PTFE and TFE.

This article explains PTFE vs. TFE, including the coaxial cables and hookup wires that utilize them. 

About Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE)

TFE (Tetrafluoroethylene) is an odorless, colorless gas that’s extremely toxic and, in some cases, deadly.

Its primary industrial application involves the production of different fluoropolymer resins like PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).

But these fluoropolymers also have several other uses due to a combination of properties. 

Something essential to remember about TFE is that users must implement the highest safety standards when using it.

That’s because, besides its toxicity, it’s highly flammable and chemically unstable.

Also, even without oxygen, TFE can still explosively decompose.

That has unfortunately led to industrial accidents now and then from the unwarranted ignition of TFE. 

PTFE Coating Overview

PTFE, also commonly known as polytetrafluoroethylene, is a type of fluoropolymer consisting of TFE molecules.

Its exceptional qualities make it one of the most widely used coatings for different applications. 

This type of coating is hydrophobic, which means that it can’t be wet by water or substances containing water because of its high level of electronegativity to fluorine.

Also, it tends to be highly non-reactive and has very low friction rates contained in solids. 

Such features, as well as remarkable release capabilities and the ability to withstand a maximum usage temperature range of 500°F, make it one of the most sought-after non-stick elements.

The coating also gets applied to a thickness of about 0.0003 to 0.0008 inches. 

About 200,000 tons of PTFE get produced annually across the globe, and some of its main industrial applications include:

  • Machine parts where it’s a low friction coefficient can help with reducing energy consumption and wear
  • Cable insulations
  • Plant and reactor equipment where its non-reactive feature can help avoid issues like corrosion. Such problems usually result from highly corrosive elements or products. 
  • Industrial, medical coatings are used for graft material and catheters.
  • Non-stick domestic utensils, such as saucepans, frying pans, and woks. 

How Are PTFE Coatings Made?

Creating PTFE entails using four ingredients, hydrofluoric acid, fluorspar, water, and chloroform.

Manufacturers combine all these elements by using a chemical reaction conducted in a heated chamber of 590 to 900°C. 

Making PTFE involves two primary stages and a sequence of reactions.

First, the TFE gets synthesized from chloroform, hydrofluoric acid, and fluorspar.

All these ingredients must be combined via pyrolysis.

Because TFE is highly flammable, this step must be performed on-site. 

The next step is to polymerize the TFE into PTFE using radical polymerization.

The process utilizes minimal amounts of elements like ammonium persulfate and succinic acid.

The other main ingredient involved in the polymerization process is water. 

Which Hook-up Wire Uses PTFE/TFE?

You can also call PTFE insulation Teflon™, which is the brand name given by the DuPont Company. 

Unaffected by oils, most chemicals,  moisture, and alkalis, PTFE insulation is a non-aging, abrasion-resistant, tough, and weather-resistant material. 

So, you can immerse the PTFE cable in water, oil, or gasoline.

Also, PTFE insulation, with a melting point of 327 degrees Celsius,  does not become brittle or degrade at high temperatures. 

Additionally, it is non-toxic and resistant to mildew.

Further, it has an extremely smooth surface and is flexible with a low friction coefficient, facilitating installation in difficult-to-reach places and conduits. 

Manufacturers use a high-pressure ram extruder to make PTFE hook-up wires, including UL 1199 (between 20 and 40 mils) and three NEMA HP3 styles (wall thicknesses between 6 and 28 mils).

UL 1199 Hook-Up Wire

UL 1199 standard Wire, suitable for the internal wiring of electronic equipment and appliances, has a maximum usable temperature rating of 200 C, a maximum voltage of 600 volts, and a peak voltage of 2,500 volts with an insulation thickness between 0.02 inches and 0.045 inches.

Type E Wire

This type of wire has a maximum voltage range of 600 volts and is usable in situations with average temperatures of -55 to 200°C.

Also, it comes with a thinner insulation that’s 10 to 15 mils thick.

Further, the wire complies with the requirements of the UL 1213 and the military specifications of M16878/4. 

Type EE Wire

A slightly heavier insulation wire averages between 0.015 to 0.028 inches.

Most of these versions you can use at 1,000 volts, but some still tend to have a lower rating of as low as 300 volts.

The defined temperature profiles are -60 to 200°C. The wire also conforms to 1180 and M16878/5 styles.    

Type ET Wire

This kind of PTFE hook-up wire has very thin insulation of about 0.0006 inches and is rated for usage at 250-volt applications.

It’s also ideal for temperatures averaging 60 to 200°C and conforms with M16878/6 and UL 1371.

Which Coaxial Cables Use PTFE/TFE?  

Several coaxial cables use PTFE as their jacket, insulation/dielectric, or both.

That said, the following are some of the PTFE coaxial cables:

Coaxial Cable

Coaxial Cable

RG142 Cable

This cable comprises copper-plated and silver-coated conductors, a fiberglass jacket, and two copper shields that have a silver coating.

It’s been rated 1900 VMS usage and has an operational temperature of -55 to 250°C. It’s also used for jumpers and interconnects.

RG178 Cable

This cable comprises a PTFE dielectric, a silver-coated conductor with copper-clad steel, one silver-coated copper shield, and a jacket fluorinated with ethylene and propylene.

It has a rating of 1,000 VMS and can operate in temperatures averaging -55 to 200°C. 

RG179 Cable

The RG179 is a coaxial cable made of PTFE dielectric, a silver and copper-clad coated conductor, a KEL-F, and one copper shield with silver coating.

It has a rating of 75 ohms and suits use with cable, video, and TV. 

RG180 Cable

The RG180 comprises materials that are similar to the RG179 cable.

But its rating is 95 ohms, and it has a capacitance of 15pF/ft, which makes it ideal for data transmission over cable video and TV. 

RG188 Cable

The RG188 is a coaxial cable made of PTFE insulation and a jacket. Also, a silver and copper-clad coated and one copper shield with silver coating.

It has a rating of 12,900 VMS and can operate at temperatures of -55 to 250°C. 

RG316 Cable

The RG316 cable comprises a silver-coated and copper-clad steel conductor and a solid PTFE dielectric.

Also, one silver-coated copper shield and a jacket fluorinated with ethylene propylene.

It has a rating of 1,200 VMS and an operating temperature of -55 and 80°C. 

RG400 Cable

The RG400 cable comprises a silver-coated conductor with copper-clad steel, a double shield, a jacket fluorinated with ethylene propylene, and a solid PTFE dielectric.

Its rating is 1900 VMS, with a temperature range of -55 to 200°C.


We hope this article broadens your understanding of PTFE vs. TFE, including PTFE coatings, how they’re made, and which hook-up wires and coaxial cables use PTFE or TFE.

But if you need help with wiring harnesses and cable assemblies, contact Cloom

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