Beyond Omniseal® Blog

The Rulon Difference

May 31, 2018 / by Prasad K R

The U.S. manufacturing index rose to 56.6 in May from 56.5according to IHS Markit, and earlier this year Bloomberg reported that factories in China, France, Canada, Germany and the UK were finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

Manufacturing is vital to our economies and an integral piece of our lives. We rely on critical parts in our machinery and products they make to work optimally. Failure of even one part can be costly from factory downtime and loss of capacity to product contamination, recalls and other adverse effects. Downtime is estimated to cost the manufacturing industry almost $650 billion every year, according to the International Society of Automation.

Simultaneously, many applications pose demanding conditions such as dry and continuous running, exposure to chemicals, extreme temperatures with temperature swing, and high friction and wear.

Commonly used in industrial and automotive applications, Rulon® PTFE material is a versatile high-performance family of proprietary, homogenous filled materials that offers high wear life and low friction.  It can withstand harsh conditions such as dry running, aggressive chemicals and abrasion with the ability to operate in extreme temperature and pressure ranges. Many Rulon® grades have been developed over a period of time for specific custom applications since they can be custom designed into bearings, piston rings, cup seals, wear components and other critical parts.

Some examples of Rulon® parts in critical applications include:

  • Bearings used in industrial pumps, mixers and agitators as well as food and pharmaceutical industries where selecting the bearing material is important since wear and disintegration of this material into formulations can cause contamination
  • Piston cup seals in industrial flow dispensing meters to measure fuel where any variance results in financial loss to the retailer or consumer and in medical portable oxygen concentrators for sealing precision and lifetime operation
  • Bonded bearings in aerospace jet engine thrust reverser and missile launch systems due to low coefficient of friction, resistance to wear, and ability to withstand brief periods of extreme heat.
  • Valve cup seals in automotive exhaust gas recirculation systems to meet the strict leakage limits for EGR valves and environmental requirements
  • Slide bearings in seismic base isolation systems where a laminated bearing with a sliding mechanism works to absorb strong tremors

Numerous formulations of Rulon® material, including custom grades, are available; however, a handful meets most requirements, including:

Rulon® LR material is used in bearing applications due to its particularly high creep and abrasion resistance.  It is also ideal for continuous, non-lubricated sliding, rotating, and oscillating applications.  

Rulon® 641 material is FDA compliant and the only filled PTFE material with USP Class VI approval for direct contact with human tissue and fluids. Often used in bearings in pharmaceutical and food industries, it can withstand strict sanitation requirements, is self-lubricating and stain resistant.

Rulon® J material, with one of the lowest levels of coefficient friction in reinforced PTFE materials, is frequently used in start and stop application such as in automotive. It was recently certified for mass transit in trains and aircraft for specific safety requirements for flammability, smoke, and toxicity.

Other most sought after grades are Rulon® 123, W2, 488, 957, XL, 142 and 1439.


Is Rulon® PTFE the Best Material for My Application?

The following are key considerations to determine if Rulon® material is right for your application:

  • Short or limited life leading to increased maintenance.
  • If part fails, my system fails.
  • It needs to perform one or more of the below  functions:
    • Reduce weight without compromising performance
    • Reduce friction
    • Provide self-lubrication of the part
    • Sustain very high wear
    • Withstand extremely high or low level temperatures
    • Withstand corrosion from chemicals

How can you tell that you have the “real” Rulon® material?

Saint-Gobain Seals is proud to have been the exclusive developer of Rulon® material since the early 1950s, with the creation of the first blended PTFE material, Rulon® A. We manufacture the product in-house, ensuring consistent, high-quality standards, starting from testing resin at the plant to ensuring the highest levels of precision monitoring in every step through to the final product for every formulation. Materials are tested for crystallinity, molecular weight, and porosity.  Even a slight modification to one of these requirements has the potential to enhance one property yet compromise another; therefore, maintaining strict controls is a priority.  Please beware of counterfeit Rulon® suppliers.  Saint-Gobain Seals is the only source of genuine Rulon® material.

At Saint-Gobain Seals, we have a long history of working with OEMs and developers at organizations to customize Rulon® material and our other polymer product lines for their specific needs. Our products are used in transportation, infrastructure, and numerous industrial applications as well as challenging space applications that include the International Space Station and Mars Rover Curiosity.

 Contact us today to learn more about the Rulon® material.


Topics: Education

Prasad K R

Written by Prasad K R