Teflon tape is a thin adhesive film of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which is typically used for sealing plumbing or pipe systems. Several types of Teflon tape exist, each suitable for different sealing applications. Manufacturers denote the type of tape by its colour. Different qualities of Teflon tape are denoted by two U.S. standards that regulate the minimum thickness and density of the adhesive.
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While Teflon tapes vary in quality, all have to meet two U.S. standards that define the physical properties of the adhesive material. The first standard is one written by the U.S. military, which limits the minimum thickness of the tape at 0.0035 inches. The second standard was included in the 1998 U.S. Government Services Administration Whole Building Design Guide, and it sets the minimum density of the material at 1.2 grams per cubic centimetre (g/cc). These standards ensure that the types of Teflon tape made by manufacturers will work as a sealant under regular conditions.
Teflon tape is commonly used as a sealant on pipes that carry gases. Teflon tape is well suited for this application because it is strong and chemically inert. As Teflon is naturally white, manufacturers use standardised colours to denote what kinds of gases specific Teflon tapes should be used for. Yellow Teflon tapes are intended for pipes carrying flammable gases such as propane, butane and natural gas. Green Teflon tapes are intended for pipes carrying oxygen-rich gases. Different additives are used for each kind of tape to account for hazards introduced by each kind of gas. For example, green Teflon tapes include additives that prevent corrosion that occurs in oxygen-rich environments.
Teflon tape is often used to seal pipes carrying liquids. Different colours are used to separate these types of Teflon tape from those intended for use with gases. Gray Teflon tape adheres well to stainless-steel fittings, which helps limit corrosion. Pink Teflon tape is used by plumbers to reduce the likelihood and severity of leaks. Tapes designed for plumbing tend to have slightly higher densities than those used for gases to resist oxidation induced by interaction with water.
Industrial manufacturers developed other types of Teflon tape to perform functions other than sealing. Scientists combine Teflon tape with other films to make functional adhesive materials. For example, DeWAL makes a Teflon tape designed for electrical insulation. Additional types of Teflon tape include those designed for thermal spray masking, noise reduction and packaging of pressure sensitive products. Major automotive manufacturers use a special type of modified Teflon tape to reduce problems associated with metal-to-metal contact, such as noise and friction.
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