We often take for granted how everyday products come to be and the processes that go in to creating a finished product. Not to mention the jobs that are created and sustained as a result of those processes. That’s most likely the case for plastic tubing. However, if you stop and think about just how many different products rely on this durable material, you’d probably have a hard time counting them all.
Taylor County’s own plastics tube manufacturer, Fluortubing US, has quietly been producing millions of feet of PTFE and Teflon tubing for a broad range of industries for more than a decade. The scope of production covers material blending, extrusion and a wide range of finishing operations. Most of its products are custom made for highly demanding applications in the chemical processing, power generation, aircraft, automotive, food, medical and pharmaceutical industries.
PTFE and Teflon tubing are extruded in a way that is unique for the plastics industry. PTFE particles are coagulated in an aqueous solution to become a fine powder capable of absorbing a liquid lubricant. After mixing the powder and lubricant, the material is compacted and pressed before it is dried and sintered in ovens. Once the tubing exits the ovens, it possesses the strength and integrity we all know.
Smooth bore tubing is stored on drums or is coiled for shipment. However, downstream equipment will form most of the tubing into convoluted tubing, blow-molded products, bent tubes or various other products. Tubing bores vary from less than 1 millimeter up to 100 millimeters, while a complete line of PTFE convoluted tubing can range from one quarter inch bore to 4 inches.
“Our product applications are extremely diverse,” said Ryan Emmerling, general manager of Fluortubing US. “They can be found in applications such as the nitrogen inverting system on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jet, in fuel delivery hoses for tankers and railcars, as well as at your local gas station. Our products are also often found in food, beverage and chlorine manufacturing factories and were even used in the Mars Rover Project.”
Headquartered in the Netherlands, Fluortubing located its only US operation in Campbellsville in 2007. The privately owned company also operates a joint venture in China. The company’s nearly 50,000 square-foot facility contains two vertical extrusion lines within one extrusion tower, two vacuum convoluters, an etching plant, a flaring/assembling work center, resin mixing rooms, and more than 20,000 square feet of warehouse space.
A little over five years ago, Fluortubing brought tube manufacturing into its Campbellsville operation, a move that significantly lowered costs for the European-owned company. The move has allowed the company to grow employment steadily to about two dozen employees in 2019.
Plans for Fluortubing US include the addition of a new product line of complete rubber and silicone covered PTFE lined hoses. They will begin sales, warehousing, and distribution for the North American and Japanese markets in early 2020.
Emmerling added, “We are excited to be a member of the Campbellsville community. The diverse employee backgrounds in this area gives us a broad range of qualifications to choose from. We are excited to be able to offer good jobs with an excellent benefits package to the people of this area. Being a supplier for the North American market, Campbellsville’s central location allows us to meet our customers’ needs quickly.”
For more information about Fluortubing US and its parent company, visit www.fluortubing.com.