As the industry leaders in fluoropolymer tubing, we do everything in our power to ensure our clients get the tubing they need and can work with it in the safest way possible. Often, FEP tubing and other fluoropolymer tubing are utilized for medical applications due to their unique physical properties. Consider, for instance, the microtubing utilized in endoscopy devices or intravenous catheters or heat shrink tubing used in the manufacturing process of catheters.
There needs to be safety precautions taken when processing fluoropolymers. Afterall, fluoropolymers are most commonly utilized because they have high melting points. PFA tubing, for example, has a melting point of just about 581 degrees F. The operator utilizing the tubing will need to ensure that the material that they use around the heaters can sustain the heat. Cast bronze is often the material of choice as it can rate up to 900 F. Every safety precaution should be taken so that the operator never suffers a burn.
FEP tubing, and all other fluoropolymer tubing for that matter, will often encounter molten resin. Materials in medical equipment like breaker plates, screws and die heads must be made of corrosion-resistant metals made of high nickel content. It’s also important that those working with fluoropolymers understand the concept of melt fracture. This can occur on the surface of tubing when there is too much shear in the die tooling gaps. Larger tooling gaps can help avoid melt fracture issues. Tubing with bigger drawdowns is the best way for those working with fluoropolymers to avoid issues with melt fracture.
The processing of fluoropolymers is where the most potential safety issues arise. The Guide to the Safe Handling of Fluoropolymers Resins, which was published by the Fluoropolymer Division of the Plastic Industry Association reported that “gases, fumes and vapors released the during the extrusion of fluoropolymers may be harmful to human health.”
Anyone working on processing fluoropolymers should do so in the proper location. It’s vital that an exhaust ventilation system is present that has a fan, ducting, and extraction hoods. In most cases, those who are exposed to fumes during the processing of fluoropolymers will suffer from symptoms that reflect the flu. Fever, chills, and headaches have all been reported as a result of fluoropolymer vapors. Ensuring an extraction hood is above the die head of large diameter tubing as well as above the area where tubing will be cut to specific length is pivotal to the worker’s safety. All delivered fluoropolymer resins must be secured properly. When they are eventually opened, it should only occur in areas that are well ventilated.
At Fluorotherm, we are proud to carry FEP tubing and other fluoropolymer tubing that when utilized properly can provide a bevvy of benefits without putting those who work with it at any risk.