MechChem Africa

MechChem Africa visits the PTFE (polytetrafluorethylene) facilities of Trident Plastics and talks to operations manager, Louis Botha about the manufacturing process and the company’s niche offering.

Trident Plastics is a specialised manufacturer of PTFE products, which are widely used for industrial valve components and other sealing solutions. “We are a Proudly South African company that produces all of our products here in our Boksburg facility and we have been a PTFE specialist in this country since 1998,” says Botha.

Trident Plastic seats and sealsAfter having traded in the local market as Hardomid Plastics for many years, Trident Plastics was recently bought out by one of its principal customers and immediately started to expand its market to also include European OEMs. “Various industries and markets have been supplied by Trident Plastics, but the company’s strongest footprint is in the valve industry where Trident’s products are used to seal industrial valves internally and to atmosphere according to highest international standards,” says Botha.

Trident Plastics supplies both semi-finished components and completely machined PTFE parts. Latest state-of-the-art machinery is used to manufacture PTFE billets as well as finished components from the smallest micro parts to big and heavy PTFE liners. Recent investments into new production capabilities enable the company to meet highest international quality demands and to supply the market in very short lead times. According to MD, Erich Ermel: “Highest quality supplied with short lead times is our strength and what we strive to constantly improve.”

The company’s new Boksburg premises were acquired in order to cope with increasing demand from the market. “Our new premises allow us to further improve our workflow and, additionally, we have installed fully air conditioned production facilities according to latest state-of-the-art technology, which sets a new benchmark in the PTFE industry. Trident Plastics keeps a wide range and high volumes of PTFE powders in stock to keep the delivery reliability high and to be less dependent on the volatile PTFE raw material market,” says Botha.

“The international market demands more from a supplier than products. Customers expect us to develop components according to their very specific needs,” he adds. “This is one reason why the company has set up its own design and in-house laboratory facilities where products can be developed and tested according to exact specified requirements.”

Describing the need for PTFE in the valve industry, he explains that PTFE is an ideal contact seal material because of its low friction coefficient, good sealing capabilities and excellent chemical resistance. “Ball valves, butterfly valves, plug valves, safety valves and many other types of industrial valves use mainly PTFE components for internal and external seals and both valve manufacturers and valve repair companies use our PTFE parts to achieve reliable tightness that withstands the chemically corrosive media used in chemical processes,” he explains.

Parts manufactured start from simple sealing rings up to large and complicated components where excellent tightness and safety is mandatory. Trident Plastics supplies internationally renowned valve OEMs in large quantities “but we also supply small and local valve refurbishment companies who have very specific demands”.

On a tour of the Boksburg facility, Botha starts at the raw material store, where sealed boxes of raw materials imported from Europe are stored. “We import different PTFE powder mixes. The white PTFE is pure and known as virgin PTFE. It has the best chemical resistance in the range,” he says, warning that the powders should never be touched as even the smallest amount of contamination can impact the material’s properties.

As well as virgin PTFE, glass-, carbon-, graphite-, bronze-filled and other powders are also imported, depending on prevailing client needs. “Carbon- and graphite-filled PTFE offer a longer wear life under wet or dry conditions and are suitable for use as high temperature bearing materials, particularly when a load bearing capability is required,” Botha explains …

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