Rulon® Mechanical Properties and Applications: Six Decades of Service

Rulon® fluoropolymer material is a multi-purpose high-performance group of proprietary, homogenous filled materials that provides low friction and high wear life. It is capable of withstanding harsh conditions such as aggressive chemicals, dry running and abrasion with the ability to function in extreme pressure and temperature ranges. A variety of Rulon® grades have been developed over the past 60 years for particular custom applications since they can be custom-engineered into bearings, cup seals, wear components, piston rings and other critical parts.

Rulon® components ensure performance, reliability, long service life, and decreased maintenance cost, and downtime.

The first Rulon® blend was developed in the 1950s and used in broad range of applications. One of the oldest and significant applications has been its employment as Slide bearing/Anti-Seismic plates in Alaskan Pipelines for its non-rusting, chemical resistance, and low-stick slip properties. Rulon® PTFE has endured the extremes of Alaskan temperature from the day of commissioning in 1977.

Rulon® Material Marks Over 60 Years of Service

In the 1800s, saddles were wooden bearings used to weigh the top rolls on textile spinning frames. Ironically, it was a successful trial to optimize the performance of this basic mechanical component that laid the foundation for Saint-Gobain Seals' wide-ranging series of Rulon® products.

Dixon Lubricating Saddle Company employees

This photograph of Dixon Lubricating Saddle Company employees was taken in the early 1950s at their headquarters on High Street in Bristol, Rhode Island.

After the Civil War, Ezra Dixon worked in Rhode Island, installing spinning frames in a textile mill. He came to understand that a more advanced saddle design could significantly enhance productivity, and soon developed a metal bearing that became the global standard for this modest but nevertheless vital part. The story of Rulon® actually began six decades ago, in 1957, when the company trademarked the name of a new material that Robert Rulon Miller — who married into the Dixon family — had been investigating for several years. This material utilized DuPont Teflon® (tetrafluoroethylene) as a part of a new plastic saddle design to ensure smoother functioning and longer wear life. The trademark name became Rulon®.

Since Rulon® material entered the scene, first with Dixon Industries Corp., then Furon, and presently Saint-Gobain Seals, the product line has been expanded to many varied grades of composite materials, each with unique properties designed to serve a wide range of applications and industries.

Depending upon the resources of its world-class Northboro, Massachusetts, R&D facility, the company aims to create polymer products such as the Rulon® product to meet even more challenging applications — products that last even in higher temperatures and last longer than rival alternatives in the market.

Types of Rulon® Mechanical Components

Bearings

Rulon® composites are suitable for non-lubricated, high-load capacity, enabling the replacement of powdered metal, bronze, and steel in certain applications, and providing longer wear and prolonged operating life. Sleeve, flanged and thrust bearings are available in the common materials: J (all-polymeric reinforced PTFE compound designed to work with soft mating surfaces), LR (continuous non-lubricating service), and 641 (FDA compliance for food and drug contact and USP Class VI certification).

Rings

Solid and split piston rings, comprising of a complete complement of joint configurations, can be produced to meet custom specifications, or Saint-Gobain Seals engineers can assist customers to design the ideal ring for specific needs.

Tapes

A majority of Rulon® materials can be skived (shaved) into sheets, which can be etched for bonding to other materials or employed as is in a wide variety of applications where friction reduction is preferred. FDA-compliant materials can be applied as non-stick coating surfaces for food preparation.

Basic Shapes

Molded and extruded tubes and rods and molded sheets can be ordered in most of the materials.

Formed Parts

A wide variety of cup seals is available, either cold-formed to preserve the natural memory of the materials or hot-formed to hold a particular shape. These products deliver reliable hysteresis in precision electronic and dust-sealing applications.

Rulon® wear component and bearing applications

Rulon® wear component (above) and bearing (top right) applications include mixers, pumps, compressors, and ovens/toasters. Rulon® formed part (right) applications include TPS shaft seals, emissions controls, dust seals, automotive, medical pumps and refrigeration valves.

Wear Components

Wear components come in a range of sizes and shapes in addition to those defined above, including pump bodies, wear bands, and pistons for thermally and chemically challenging environments. These products are usually manufactured to customer specifications.

Case Study: Fuel Dispenser Pump

Rulon® polymer material is used most often in industrial applications because of its long life and low friction.  Imagine some plants that have to run their equipment constantly and are concerned about downtime.  This case study shows how the PTFE material helps both the customer (OEM) but also the end user.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Saint-Gobain Seals.

For more information on this source, please visit Saint-Gobain Seals.

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