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ptfe cnc machined parts

PTFE CNC Machining: What You Need to Know for Your Project

Teflon or Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer thermoplastic. It is one of the engineering plastics used in several industrial applications. Manufacturers often use PTFE due to its chemical inertness, high melting point, and low friction coefficient.

PTFE CNC machining is ideal for fabricating parts for different applications requiring good resistance to chemicals and stability at high temperatures.

This guide discusses everything you need to know about Teflon CNC machining and the common machining methods. Likewise, you’ll learn about Teflon CNC machined parts applications and the essential considerations for successful PTFE machining. Let’s dive in!

What Is PTFE CNC Machining

Teflon is a common brand name for a thermoplastic fluoropolymer known as Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE CNC machining involves using computer-programmed controls to manage the movement of the cutting tool to cut Teflon/PTFE material into desired shapes and sizes.

This engineering plastic gives a white solid form at room temperature. It usually exhibits remarkable resistance to chemicals like alkalis and acids. Moreover, product designers in the medical, cookware, and automotive industries often use Teflon due to its low coefficient of friction properties.

Material Properties/Advantages of Teflon

Most Teflon properties result from its thermoplastic fluoropolymer nature, which contains only carbon and fluorine. Notable attributes of Teflon include:

  • Fatigue and chemical resistance
  • Ultraviolet rays and water resistant
  • PTFE machined parts exhibit anti-adhesive
  • Teflon has high-insulating property
  • Low coefficient of friction
  • Melting point of 327ºC
  • Thermal stability between -260ºC and +260ºC

Limitations of Teflon/PTFE

custom cnc machined ptfe part
Custom CNC Machined PTFE Part

Even though Teflon is a valuable plastic with various benefits in different applications, there are certain limitations to machining Teflon. These include:

  • It is relatively more costly than most CNC machining materials.
  • Teflon has low mechanical strength.
  • It has lower tensile strength than nylon.
  • PTFE parts react with alkali metals and extremely reactive fluorinating agents.
  • Teflon machined parts produce toxic fumes when exposed to extreme temperatures above 500ºF (260ºC).

Common Grades of PTFE

Manufacturers in different industries employ various grades of Teflon in machining plastic parts. Some of these plastics come with a brand name and with unique properties. Here are common Teflon grades applicable in plastic CNC machining:

  • Peek-filled PTFE – famous for its compressive strength.
  • Pigmented PTFE – known for its better visibility.
  • Virgin PTFE – exhibits high chemical resistance, electrical and flexural properties.
  • Chemically Modified PTFE – has less creep, improved permeation resistance, and smooth surface.
  • Glass-filled PTFE – applicable in producing parts that require excellent chemical and wear resistance and high compressive strength.

Why Is CNC Machining the Ideal Technique for Manufacturing Teflon Parts?

You’ll hardly come by Teflon parts produced with injection molding or 3D printing. However, CNC machining is the most used Teflon parts manufacturing method for the following reasons:

Greater Accuracy and Less Defects

CNC machines offer greater accuracy in machining Teflon because they require little-to-no human intervention. However, fewer errors may occur in CNC machined PTFE parts due to human operators or design flaws.

Additionally, unlike other manufacturing methods, there are lower risks of defects during PTFE machining and increased repeatability. Moreover, the CNC machines maintain repeatability until there is a deliberate modification to the CNC machine programming language.

Decomposition before High-Temperature

Teflon/PTFE exhibits high melt viscosity and sensitivity to heat in the high-temperature amorphous form. Hence, CNC machining is ideal for machining Teflon since it may deteriorate before melting.

Moreover, machining Teflon/PTFE beyond 250ºC produces certain toxic gases. These gases can adversely affect machinists and final-product users. However, since injection molding and 3D printing use high temperatures, they are unsuitable for manufacturing Teflon parts.

Suitable for Complex Shaped Parts

ptfe cnc complex shaped parts
PTFE CNC Complex Shaped Part

Multi-axis CNC machines offer the precision and accuracy that complex Teflon/PTFE parts require. This crucial quality renders CNC machining indispensable in precision Teflon machining.

Multi-axis machines use tools that move in 4 or more directions, allowing the Teflon parts to be machined from different angles simultaneously for better results.

Generation of Heat

Most manufacturing methods, including CNC machining, produce heat during manufacturing because of the movement and interaction of the tools with the workpiece. So, you should employ an effective cooling system to manage the heat generated when CNC machining PTFE material.

Teflon is very sensitive to heat, and defects like warping may occur during Teflon machining due to the lack of a cooling system.

Machining Methods for Teflon Parts

teflon cnc milling
Teflon CNC Milling

Manufacturers create custom Teflon parts with different machining processes. This section discusses the standard machining methods for machining Teflon:

CNC Machining

CNC machining is a widely embraced technique for creating various custom Teflon/PTFE machined parts. Generally, this subtractive process involves using computer-controlled tools to fabricate Teflon materials to make preferred parts with specific shapes and sizes. However, Teflon machining includes the following methods:

1. CNC Drilling

The CNC drilling method uses a drill to create a hole in Teflon parts. However, it would be best to consider certain factors before making holes in machined parts with CNC drilling bits.

For instance, it is crucial to use a shaft that aids the proper evacuation of chips. Additionally, ensure the CNC drill is perpendicular to the workpiece to mitigate drifting.

2. CNC Milling

ptfe cnc milling
PTFE CNC Milling

This machining process involves using CNC mills to cut material from the Teflon to form different components. The CNC mills rotate and move the cutting tool along different axes.

Consequently, milling machines offer the high precision and accuracy required in various Teflon machined parts. Therefore, CNC milling is suitable for manufacturing Teflon parts with rough edges.

3. CNC Turning

ptfe cnc turning
PTFE CNC Turning

The CNC turning process involves holding the Teflon material in a chuck and rotating the workpiece while feeding it to the turning tool to cut PTFE parts with a hollow structure. CNC turning is helpful in making high-precision Teflon/PTFE machined parts.

4. CNC Turn-Mill

cnc turn mill ptfe parts
CNC Turn-Mill PTFE Parts

This CNC machining technique combines the properties of milling and turning methods in making Teflon/PTFE parts with complex geometries. Although CNC turn-mill machining may not measure up to multi-axis machining, it offers certain complex parts like hollow Teflon parts with rough bottom properties.

5. Multi-Axis/5-Axis Machining

This cutting-edge Teflon CNC machining method is suitable for making complex custom parts. It utilizes a multi-Axis and multi-tool setup to create PTFE parts. Most significantly, it ensures the end product has excellent accuracy and precision. Multi-axis machining process makes it easier to achieve tight tolerances.

Mechanical/Manual Machining

Manual Teflon machining doesn’t use computer controls, so these techniques offer less precise and accurate results. However, they are only ideal for manufacturing PTFE parts that don’t require tight tolerances, complex design, or manufacturing processes.

Typical Applications of Teflon/PTFE Machined Parts

cnc machined teflon part
CNC Machined Teflon Part

CNC-machined Teflon parts have a wide range of applications in various industries due to their remarkable material properties. Here are typical applications of PTFE machined parts:

Aerospace Industry

CNC Teflon machined parts exhibit remarkable material properties such as good strength and low friction, making them suitable for use in the aerospace industry. Teflon is an excellent electrical insulator making the Teflon parts safe for electrical connections and cable insulation. Other uses of Teflon include fuel hoses, coatings, and door surface protection.

In addition, aerospace parts designers use the Teflon CNC machining process due to its accuracy and precision in fabricating aerospace components with tight tolerance.

Medical Industry

The medical industry often uses Teflon in making medical parts because of their chemical inertness and flexibility. Teflon machined parts are biocompatible due to their ability to retain chemical and structural stability when used as body implants.

Common examples of medical PTFE machined parts are valves and needle cases. Additionally, Teflon is suitable for tissue and organ transplantation in surgery.

Automotive Industry

Product developers and machinists in the automotive sector use Teflon CNC machining because of the precision and accuracy of the process. Typical examples of Teflon/PTFE uses in the automotive industry include valves and gears. Additionally, PTFE is suitable for making lightweight chassis and other vehicle components of varying sizes and shapes.

Food Processing Industry

Teflon/PTFE is chemically inert, making it an ideal material in food processing. Therefore, Teflon machined parts are non-reactive to processed food. A typical application of Teflon/PTFE machined parts in this industry includes blending food machine components and food processing contact machinery.

Alternative Materials to Teflon

Regardless of the many benefits of CNC machining PTFE, other materials that serve as better alternatives include:

  • Ethylene Chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE)

This is a copolymer of ethylene and Chlorotrifluoroethylene and semi-crystalline fluoropolymer. It is a fluoropolymer like Teflon, a fluorocarbon-based containing multiple carbon-fluorine bonds.

However, this semi-crystalline thermoplastic offers better corrosion and chemical resistance than Teflon. Therefore, manufacturers often use it as an alternative in applications requiring better chemical and corrosion resistance.

  • Polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE)

This material is an alternative to Teflon but different because it is a thermoplastic Chlorofluoropolymer. It offers any plastic’s lowest water vapor transmission rate and a high water resistance level.

  • Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA)

Both PFA and Teflon are fluoropolymers with similar levels of chemical resistance. However, PFA has less abrasion-resistant, and it is softer than Teflon. Therefore, manufacturers hardly use this material in structural parts.

Essential Considerations and Tips for PTFE CNC Machining

teflon cnc machining
Teflon CNC Machining

Teflon is a material that offers impressive flexibility when CNC machining. However, it is critical to understand certain factors that impact your Teflon/PTFE CNC machining project. Here are some of these factors:


Teflon is easy to machine because it is a naturally soft thermoplastic. However, its extreme lack of rigidity can result in tool chatter during CNC machining. Therefore, you can either use a better grade of Teflon for your CNC machined parts or introduce material that can strengthen it. Also, a general thumb rule is to use +/- 0.001 per inch tolerance for plastic parts.

Tight Tolerance       

PTFE CNC machining can make it difficult to achieve tight tolerances since Teflon/PTFE machining is susceptible to increased stress creep and a high expansion coefficient. However, using coolants like water-soluble coolants can increase the chances of achieving the best tolerance and desired surface finish.

Custom Teflon Parts

custom cnc machined ptfe parts
Custom CNC Machined PTFE Parts

Since Teflon is soft and several machining processes generate excess heat, it is not ideal for creating unbalanced parts like disc-shaped or bowl-shaped Teflon machined parts.

Deformation under Extreme Pressure

It would be best to note that applying excess pressure when machining Teflon will deform it. Besides, you can apply this to custom parts machining by removing complex features and tight tolerances to make the material suitable for the intended application.

Other PTFE CNC Machining Tips:

  • Use the appropriate machining tool for your Teflon machined parts to ensure better chip clearance and avoid clogging.
  • It is advisable to machine your Teflon/PTFE parts using cemented carbide tool with a polished top surface for improved surface finishes and tool protection.
  • Bead blasting is the ideal surface finishing option machinists use to remove irregularities from the surface of your CNC Teflon parts.
  • Provide support for the Teflon material during CNC machining to ensure high accuracy.

AT-Machining CNC Machining Services for Teflon/PTFE Parts

plastic cnc machining services
Plastic CNC Machining Services

Although Teflon CNC machining can be more challenging than other plastic parts, AT-Machining is here to help you. We are a reliable plastic CNC machining services expert with years of experience machining Teflon/PTFE parts. We offer extensive machining capabilities, including milling, turning, and multi-axis machining for quality and precise custom-machined parts with tight tolerances.

Our experts have in-depth knowledge of various part-finishing processes for enhancing the surfaces of plastic parts. We remove burrs with finishing options like painting, polishing, bead blasting, or deburring process.

Experience our reliable DFM feedback today. Our team of experts ensures your plastic parts are manufacturable. We help to analyze your part design for an efficient and less expensive manufacturing process.

Trust us to bring your design to life with the best machining capabilities. We will deliver the high-quality CNC machined Teflon parts you desire. Contact us today; let’s discuss your projects!


What Are the Common Uses of Teflon in Mechanical Engineering?

Teflon’s extremely low frictional properties and high thermal resistance make it a widely used material in mechanical engineering. Typical uses of Teflon for machine parts include slide plates, gears, O-rings, pipe linings, bearings, saw blades, and joints.

What Are the Raw Materials Used in Creating Teflon?

Four primary Teflon thermoplastic ingredients include water, chloroform, fluorspar, and hydrofluoric acid. These elements are mixed in a chemical reaction chamber heated precisely to about 590 to 900ºC (1094 to 1652ºF).

What Chemicals React Negatively with PTFE?

Virgin Teflon grade exhibits excellent chemical resistance and is stable in most aggressive and corrosive media. However, PTFE parts react with certain liquid or dissolved alkali metals, fluorine, and other powerful oxidizers.

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