When we picture the construction of the impossibly tall skyscrapers of New York or the industrial neighborhoods in our own town, steel and the like typically come to mind. But if you work in the construction industry, you likely deal with a variety of materials beyond steel on a daily basis. It’s no secret that polymer materials are an integral part of building construction these days, which is why we’re highlighting some of those materials today! To start, we’re exploring two of the newest materials being frequently used today: ETFE and PTFE.

What is ETFE?

While ETFE and PTFE hold unique properties, they are often mixed up. ETFE (short for ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) is comprised of carbon, fluorine, and hydrogen. The material is extremely heat resistant and can withstand temperatures up to 620 degrees Fahrenheit before melting.

What is PTFE?

Although similar in multiple ways, PTFE differs greatly from ETFE. PTFE (which is short for polytetrafluoroethylene) is made of long strings of carbon or fluorine atoms. PTFE has an exceptionally low coefficient of friction, which essentially means it is non-stick — this is also why PTFE is sometimes referred to as Teflon because the material is found in the nonstick coating used in the popular pans. PTFE is harder to burn than ETFE because it requires more ambient oxygen.

How are ETFE and PTFE used in building construction?

ETFE and PTFE tout significant benefits, and in addition to steel, make great building materials for construction purposes. Both ETFE and PTFE for example, are abrasion-resistant, waterproof, and can easily stretch making the materials breathable.

ETFE has been used in numerous significant applications in recent years. The material was used in the Beijing water cube for the 2008 Olympics, which involved a team of architects covering the massive facade in ETFE foil. Due to the material’s transparent nature, the project also let in natural light and lowered energy costs as a result. PTFE is highly used in technical situations like cabling — mainly for its ability to stretch and resist heat.

Steel Supplies in Tampa

At Tampa Steel & Supply, we offer an extensive list of high-quality products and services so you can tackle any project. With a beautiful showroom featuring a large inventory of ornamental iron components and sample designs, you’ll be easily inspired for your next project. Whether you need metals, ornamentals, or fabrication supplies, we have the products and services you need to complete your project. Contact us today to learn more.

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