There are indications that more than three thousand years ago some ancient Greeks might have made and used nonstick pans to bake bread. Mycenaean Greek skillets had a cooking side covered with tiny holes that archeologists believed helped to evenly spread oil over the griddle so that dough wouldn't stick while being cooked.
In the modern history of nonstick coating technology, while working at Chemours in 1938 Roy Plunkett accidently invented polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Better known today by its trademarked name Teflon®, PTFE coated nonstick cookware started to hit the selling floors in the early 1960s.
PTFE coating's single most important property that makes it so great a choice for nonstick cookware is its very low coefficient of friction (CoF). As a result, most substances (in this case food) won't stick to it and can be easily removed from the cooking surface.
Early PTFE coated cookware suffered from poor quality which often resulted in a short product lifespan. In subsequent years a lot of research and development was conducted to improve the quality and adhesion of today's PTFE coating services. The result is that nonstick cookware, while once considered disposable, now accounts for 75 percent of all cookware and bakeware sold.
The quality of PTFE coatings has come so far that nowadays some manufacturers offer a lifelong guarantee on the coating of their products. PTFE's nonstick characteristic also makes it a very good candidate for a variety of uses and industries outside of the kitchen, including coatings for items such as plain bearings, slide plates, gears, and more. And, a PTFE coating's dielectric properties make it a great choice for insulation in wiring for the aerospace and computer industry.
These applications are just a few of the use cases PTFE nonstick coatings offers. Even as technology continues to evolve and enhance the way we live, PTFE coatings will certainly remain a vital component that enhances and improves our daily lives via the tools and equipment we use.
Types of Nonstick Coatings
Nonstick coatings have different applications in a wide spectrum of industries. Some of those industries and applications include:
- Food processing equipment and cookware
- Tools surfaces, such as saws and cutting blades
- Machinery parts that are in constant motion or in regular contact with contaminants that could affect performance
- Any use where a low coefficient of friction is required!
The most common nonstick coatings include:
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE coatings), commonly known as Teflon®
- Silicone coatings
- Sol-gel coatings, better known as ceramic coatings
Major Nonstick Coating Technologies
The major compound among the fluoropolymer resins is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These plastic polymers are non-toxic, solid and are inherently nonstick. Fluoropolymer coatings have the ability to keep their nonstick characteristics for longer periods and, with advances in technology, have become far more resistant to wear over time.
Typical applications of PTFE coating services include:
- Semiconductor manufacturing
- Cookware and cooking utensils
- Pharmaceutical and biopharma manufacturing
- Cabling solutions
Due to their hybrid nature, sol-gel coatings manage to combine the strength of silica with an extremely low coefficient of friction while avoiding the use of fluoropolymers. This type of coating is also commonly called a ceramic coating. These coatings are resistant to high temperatures, PFOA free, and available in a wide range of colors.
Some of the better-known industry applications of ceramic coatings include:
- Steel manufacturing
- Oil and gas exploration
- Pump and fluid management
- Cookware and home appliances
Note that these coatings, like silicones, have a shorter non-stick life than fluoropolymer coatings.