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Throwback Thursday: Teflon

From cookware to electronics, Teflon is a widely used synthetic polymer that most of us have contact with every day. It’s a fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene and arguably the most famous fluoropolymer there is! The material, which is actually called Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), is most commonly known by its brand name, Teflon. So, where exactly did this wonder material come from and how did it come to be synonymous with its brand name? Let’s find out more…

Back in 1938, Roy J. Plunkett was an American chemist working for DuPont. He was attempting to create a new refrigerant – aka the working fluid of a refrigerator – when something unusual happened during his research. The gas in the pressure bottle stopped flowing and the weight dropped drastically. To see why this had happened, Roy cut the bottle in half and found the inside of the bottle was coated with a waxy, slippery material – it was Polytetrafluoroethylene! Further analysis showed that the iron from the inside of the container acted as a catalyst at high pressure, which ultimately polymerised Perfluoroethylene.

Three years later, the parent company patented the discovery and the brand name Teflon became trademarked in 1945. By 1948, DuPont was producing 900 tonnes of Teflon for use in coating valves, seals, pipes and even fishing tackle.

It wasn’t until 1954 that Collette Grégoire encouraged her husband to use his fishing tackle material on cooking pans. After this, Marc Grégoire launched PTFE-coated non-stick pans under the brand name Tefal. Now, it’s widely used to coat non-stick frying pans around the world.

Teflon is, however, used across multiple industries, including:

  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Electronics
  • Cabling
  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Energy, oil and gas


We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Throwback Thursday! For information on the Goodfellow catalogue, get in touch with the team today. Alternatively, you can view our products online, right here.