So, what do you guys make?

In casual conversation it is not unusual to hear the question “So what do you do for a living?”. Whenever that question comes up, I try to gauge the interest in my initial reply before going into too much depth

My immediate response to “so, what do you do for a living?”
is that “our products are on the space station and in your local fast food
restaurant and many places in between”. If their eyes haven’t glazed over,
and if a follow up question is asked, I’ll get into more detail. We are
fortunate to run a business that crosses over many industries with many neat
applications that are interesting to anyone who is involved with manufacturing
in just about any way. The second line in my reply is that you may not have
seen or used our products, but they have played a small part in your life!

PTFE coated fiberglass products find their way into diverse
applications because of their
unique operating properties
. High temperature resistance, electrically insulating,
chemical resistant, non-stick, will not burn or support flame, excellent
tensile strength, FDA approved for direct food contact, etc. 

In industrial applications, Teflon* coated fiberglass
fabrics, tapes, belts, sewing threads, cords and yarns take advantage of one or
more of these properties and can be fabricated or further processed to make
some pretty unique items. The space station items include PTFE coated fiberglass
sewing threads
(space suits, insulation panels), PTFE coated fiberglass
braided tie cords and lacing tapes (wire bundles, draw cords) and even PTFE coated fiberglass
(insulation quilts, covers).  When it comes to your local
fast-food restaurant, our PTFE coated fiberglass fabrics end up as “baskets”
in toaster ovens, liners for clam-shell grills and cookie sheets for baking,
well, cookies
!  Some more unique applications include embroidery
threads for very high temperature exhaust gas shields (won’t fade in the high
heat and won’t burn or support flame and are not attacked by any fuels or
hydraulic fluids), dryer belts
for screen printers
(high temperature, non-stick), smoker
rack liners for smoke-house meats
(FDA approval, high temperature,
non-stick), and PTFE
Coated fiberglass sewing threads
(stitching insulation blankets for gas
turbines, exhaust manifolds, engine compartments).

If you’re still reading, then at some point you developed an
interest in manufacturing at some level. Thanks for hanging around!
Manufacturing appears to be on the rebound and many exciting applications for
PTFE coated fiberglass products are certainly still ahead…we look forward to
working with you on your unique application. Zing us a note for more information!

9 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Dryer Belt!

Screen print dryer belts made from PTFE coated fiberglass mesh operate in extreme temperatures and offer release characteristics that few other materials can match…but they are not inexpensive, and care should be taken to get the maximum life from these belts.

Here are a few tips to help make your belt last a little

  1. Take a moment to be sure when ordering a new belt that you get the dimensions right. These belts are nearly impossible to modify in the field given the extreme heat and pressure required to seal edges and reinforce the “bullnose” for the alligator lacing (or other splice type).  If your mesh dryer belt is too long, it will have to come back to the factory to be shortened… if it’s too short, we will have to make a “dutchman splice” that will lengthen the belt, but you will now have 2 splices in your belt and tracking issues may result.
  2. Take time to install a new PTFE coated fiberglass mesh dryer belt correctly.  Here’s a link on how to do it right. Be sure you get it started right and you will have better shot at a long belt life.
  3. Load the belt carefully. Most screen print dryer ovens do not have automatic tracking systems installed.  They typically run slow and can often run for years with no adjustments if installed properly (#2 above).  In order to give your belt a good chance of tracking properly be sure to load it evenly.  You can load the center of the belt or alternate left and right as the dryer runs.  Avoid heavier products placed only on one side of the belt, as this can pull the belt out of square and distort the weave. 
  4. Avoid crowned pulleys. Crowned pulleys are sometimes used in belting applications, but with a Teflon coated fiberglass mesh belt, anything but the slightest of crown in the pulley can actually split the belt in two.  Remember that these are made with PTFE coated fiberglass yarns and, like anything fiberglass (imagine a fishing rod) if you repeatedly bend it over a sharp radius, you will wear it down, and possibly break it at that point.  A mesh dryer belt is constantly flexing as it travels over pulleys and deflects slightly under the load it is carrying.  If you have your heart set on installing a crowned pulley, check with us first to see how much of a crown you can safely put in place (hint: It isn’t much!).
  5.  Do not over-tension the belt. If slippage occurs, the first thing to do is to clean your drive pulley.  There should be enough friction as delivered by the factory to drive the belt without over-tensioning it. These belts are made with a woven PTFE coated fiberglass yarn and are not intended to be tensioned like a V-belt on your car!  You can easily pull the splice out of the end of the belt, tear the alligator lacing at the corners or distort the belt to the point where it does not track properly (you could also take the dryer out of square, causing tracking issues).  If you need additional friction in order to keep the belt moving, contact us and we’ll let you know what we think is the best way to get it moving. It involves applying a “lagging” tape to the drive roll, but you must do it right!
  6. Support heavy loads with a slider bed underneath the belt.  Of course, if you purchased your dryer with printing glass panels in mind, you no doubt already have a support bed of either flat panel (stainless steel) or rollers to hold all that weight.  If you are retrofitting your dryer, be sure to consult the dryer manufacturer before making significant modifications but do support the load properly one way or another because these belts are not intended to support heavy loads in free-air under tension.
  7. Do not stop your belt under a hot lamp.  If you’re using an infrared curing dryer (electric or gas fired) be sure that the belt does not stop under a lamp that is hot. High temperature heat sources can destroy the PTFE coated fiberglass substrate, effectively “burning a hole” in the belt.  If this does happen, this is one of the few repairs you can make in the field.  Contact us for a repair kit that will include materials needed to make basic repairs.
  8. Take care not to let a cart, box or other item contact your mesh dryer belt while it is running. We’ve seen a number of belts split in two when a cart or a box was allowed to rub against the belt for an extended period of time.  A short tear can sometimes be patched in the field, but long tears often ruin the belt, as there is no good, cost effective way to bond it back together.
  9. Finally, do not cut your belt off the machine in order to measure it. Use our simple guide to measure it properly. This seems obvious, but we’ve seen that happen and it can be wasteful.  In many cases, we’ve made new dryer belts for customers who then send us their old belt that is still in reasonable shape and we’ll give it a “tune-up” that allows it to be used as a spare, backup belt.

We’ve been manufacturing PTFE coated fiberglass fabrics, tapes and belts since 1991 and are ready to help in any way we can.  Just “zing us a note!”

PTFE Coated Fiberglass: Sintered versus Unsintered

The definition of “Sinter” is: “To make a powder coalesce into a solid or porous mass by heating it without liquification”.  We typically think of sintering as it relates to metal (like bronze or brass).

W.F. Lake Corp. manufactures both sintered and unsintered materials.  With sintered PTFE, we essentially have taken a PTFE powder dispersed in water and fused it using heat into a hard, slippery coating that operates at very high temperatures, is chemical resistant and very few things stick to.  These are sintered PTFE coated fiberglass products.  Unsintered products are essentially an impregnated coating of PTFE that is dried in place, but not fully fused. It has a “waxy” feel and is less abrasion resistant.

Why sintered?  Sintered PTFE coated fiberglass fabrics, tapes, belts and sewing threads are the typical form of PTFE coated textiles you see in the marketplace.  They are the work-horse products for food processing (belts and sheets), packaging (L-Sealer bars), molding (composite release sheets), flu-gas filtration (PTFE coated fiberglass sewing threads), high temperature, hot face insulation (S-2 glass, Quartz sewing threads, etc…), and many other applications.  In these cases, PTFE powder suspended in water is fused at high temperatures (sintered) to form a solid PTFE coating.

Why Unsintered?  We are unique in that we also coat many of our fiberglass yarns with unsintered PTFE.  This process requires precise temperature control to essentially “bake” the PTFE particles without fusing them together.  This leaves a waxy type coating that has both penetrated the fiber bundle and leaves a portion of the coating on the surface of the yarn. In most cases, these yarns are braided over wire conductors or made into lacing tapes and tie cords. The advantage an unsintered PTFE coating is that it allows for further processing and bonding of subsequent layers of PTFE; in the form of PTFE films, coated fiberglass fabrics or even additional PTFE dispersions.  When all of these are finally fused, or sintered, our customers form a homogeneous coating that very effectively resists chemicals, operates at high temperatures, will not burn or support flame, will not rot or support fungus and provides excellent electrical insulation.

Most of us use sintered PTFE products virtually every day.  Pots and pans, baking sheets, even breathable, water repellent rain ware (and sometimes vascular grafts!).  Unsintered PTFE products in daily use are less prevalent, but are available as Thread Seal Tape (unsintered PTFE film), packing (valve stems, shaft logs) and gaskets (valve stems), etc…  PTFE is an amazing material.  Give us a call with any questions or application opportunities… we’re here to help!

Our Magic Principle: Vertical Integration!

How is it that W.F. Lake Corp. can turn out so many variations of PTFE Coated fiberglass threads, draw cords and yarns so quickly at competitive prices regardless of quantity?

One magic principle: Vertical Integration!

When W.F. Lake Corp. started some 27 years ago, one goal was to be able to develop specialized products in relatively small runs while supplying the “standards” at competitive prices. We had lots of ideas and realized that you have to get a sample in an engineer’s hands as quickly as possible in order to remain relevant.

Ideas are one thing, bringing them to fruition is another! So we started out focusing on our strength, i.e. PTFE coating of fiberglass materials; the standards: PTFE coated fiberglass fabrics, tapes and belts, sewing threads, yarns and draw cord.

As we continued to grow, it became clear that vertical integration could make us more competitive. We certainly could have kept going without vertically integrating, but opportunities for creative new products kept coming up!

Our first move was to greatly expand our braiding operation. We had improved the basic PTFE coated fiberglass draw cord through our coating expertise, and we were buying lots of braided fiberglass. This allowed us to “become our own best customer” as well as improve innovation. Those first braiders are long gone, as they came to us in pretty rough shape and we worked them pretty hard, but they confirmed that we were going about this in the right way (“walk before you run”). We were now able to make lots of different braids with lots of coating modifications. And since we controlled the braiding itself, new products were in our customer’s hands in days, not weeks or months. Additionally, small volume runs became simple for us…no more minimum order quantities from vendors! Want to try 20 feet? No sweat! How about a braided, PTFE coated Quartz tie cord? Sure.

Next up was the twisting operation. We were chugging along with industry standard products and we had developed a few specialized PTFE Coated Fiberglass Sewing Threads. It was time to look into vertically integrating into the twisting operation. This is a bit more complicated, but we started buying and re-furbishing twister frames. Suddenly, all of those crazy ideas were easy to test out, and customer driven opportunities were addressed quickly and cost effectively. Out came PTFE Coated S-2 fiberglass threads, threads with stainless steel wire, PTFE coated threads with Inconel wire, PTFE coated Kevlar* threads with as many as 10 ends of stainless steel wire, PTFE coated Quartz sewing thread, different colors, etc…How about a PTFE coated Kevlar/Carbon Fiber Composite thread… can do! Some of these are small volume products, but that is fine with us! As a bonus, our twisting operation also feeds the braiders and the yarn coaters!

I could go on and on, (yeah, we know) but I’ll wrap it up! Suffice it to say that we continue to vertically integrate operations when it makes sense. Exploring new ideas is now simply a matter of walking out to Mark in twisters, or Fred in braiders, or Dave in the coating room, or any of a number of other employees and asking them to help out. They have, over the years, developed a keen understanding of what our equipment is capable of and they can usually get us samples very quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours!

Over the years, we have gained a good deal of knowledge about what today’s high performance materials are capable of and what combinations of materials make sense. We’ve gotten pretty good at working with customers to get them what they need in a hurry. Give us a call or zing us an email with your next development opportunity…if we don’t already have a solution, we are willing and able to give it a go and deliver samples in a hurry!


*Kevlar by DuPont

PTFE Coated Fiberglass Lacing Tapes and Tie Cords

W.F. Lake Corp. manufactures a wide range of PTFE coated fiberglass lacing tapes and tie cords that meet a number of military and commercial specifications.  These products are amazing in their long term performance characteristics.  Once installed, they rarely, if ever, need attention…no one wants to open up an airframe for a failed “zip tie”!  Unlike plastic zip ties, our products will not burn or support flame, will not rot or support fungus, are unaffected by virtually any chemicals including aviation fuels, diesel fuel, gasoline, oil, hydraulic fluids, etc.  They are unaffected by UV light and are highly flexible due to the nature of the PTFE coating and braiding process used in their production.

Of course, a “Lacing Tape” is a flat braid, while a “Tie Cord” is a round braid.

W.F. Lake Corp. puts extra effort into our lacing tapes and tie cords by first coating each fiberglass yarn with PTFE prior to the braiding process. This extra step of glass impregnation before braiding acts as protection against fiber-to-fiber abrasion during fatigue.  Also, when high local stresses occur, the PTFE coating allows mechanical transmission of the load within the lacing tape or tie cord to maximize load sharing between the fibers.  Typically, the PTFE coating represents 15% of the overall braided cord.

Some of our PTFE coated fiberglass lacing tapes and tie cords have been tested for outgassing properties by NASA (contact the factory for the location of this information).  Many of our products are also designed to meet military and commercial specifications including:

Military Specifications:


Marshall Space Flight Center


When it comes to high performance braided lacing tapes and tie cords, think of W.F. Lake Corp.!


Belt Repair 101…a how-to and guide for fixing your damaged belt

Can I repair my Teflon* coated fiberglass screen print dryer belt in the field? We often get that question. As usual, the answer depends on the damage done and the amount of wear the belt has experienced.

W.F. Lake Corp. has been manufacturing these belts for quite some time, and we’ve seen some pretty creative repairs made…literally duct tape and bailing wire (but no bubblegum yet)! Truthfully, screen printers are a creative bunch (kinda’ have to be, right?) and often make repairs using whatever is lying around the shop.

We’ve seen ragged cuts from carts that bumped against a running belt; burnt areas created when a belt stopped and sat too close to an IR heater; cuts made when unboxing a new belt; torn edge trim when a belt tracked off the pulleys; broken splices from over-tensioning, etc.  And, of course, lots of belts that are just worn out.

So, can I fix it myself? If it involves simply patching a small hole or sewing on a piece of edge trim, the answer is yes. Use one of our repair kits to put it back into service. If the metal lacing pulled out, give us a call to discuss your options.  If, however, the damage is severe or it is a pulled or torn splice, it probably cannot be fixed in the field but we may be able repair it at the factory. And if the belt is just plain worn out, we usually suggest a new one since the required thermal welding bonds are inhibited by dried inks that may have penetrated the coating.

Whatever the cause, we’re always willing to help out to see if it can be fixed, either in the field using one of our repair kits or sent back to us for investigation / factory reconditioning. It’s worth noting that some customers purchase a new belt and then return their old belt for review to see if it can be repaired and used as an “emergency backup” belt.

The operating characteristics of PTFE coated fiberglass belts are pretty impressive and if care is taken, these belts last a long time. Give us a call, e-mail us a question or ask for a quote out of curiosity. Check out how to measure a belt for the most easy and accurate way to give us the dimensions you need…each of our belts is custom made to your specifications!

Note: Before starting a new Teflon* coated fiberglass screen print dryer belt, be sure to check out our Belt Startup & Operation data.

*Reg. Chemours

A lesson in PTFE…what exactly is it?!

What is Teflon*? What is PTFE? W.F. Lake Corp. uses PTFE from a number of sources. Teflon* is PTFE which is polytetrafluorethylene. Is there a difference?  No.  There are different grades, of course, and some different chemistry to a point. Check it out on Wikipedia (I know… I know) but it gives a pretty accurate account of what it is, where it is used and how it was discovered. It goes by many names, but as most of us in the industry realize, the best known brand name of PTFE is Chemours’ Teflon* (Teflon* is a registered trademark of Chemours.  Chemours is the company recently spun off by DuPont).  It is an amazing material and is used in many applications including our high temperature PTFE coated fiberglass products like fabrics, tapes, yarns and sewing threads.  So when someone looks for Teflon Coated Fiberglass Sewing Thread, they will often find PTFE Coated Fiberglass Sewing Thread in the search.  While we do use some Chemours products, we don’t always use Teflon* brand.  We therefore advertise our products as “ PTFE coated fiberglass sewing thread “, or “ PTFE coated fiberglass fabric “ etcetera.

As always, give us a call or zing us a note with any questions.  We manufacture a wide range of PTFE coated fiberglass yarns, threads, fabrics, tapes and belts. We may not be the largest processor of PTFE coated fiberglass products in the world, but we may have the most diverse offering.  We’re proud of our ability to apply this amazing fluoropolymer to such a wide variety of materials, providing solutions for your most demanding applications.

*Teflon is a registered trademark of Chemours

W.F. Lake: Must Love Cats

Do you remember that movie, ‘Must Love Dogs’? Well, all the employees at W.F. Lake must love cats. It might come as a surprise to you that we currently have 3 unofficial mascots. All of the cats ended up here by chance (or luck depending on how you look at it!).

The cast of characters is as follows: Verne, named after Laverneus Coles, the former Jets player, came to us in 2005 when his namesake started playing for the Jets. He was named by an employee with a voracious love of the team. Bobcat, a small and timid black cat, showed up at our door about four years ago and is named after her favorite employee, Bob. She came to us after what looked like a close encounter with a fox, which explains her cautious nature. And our final mascot to show up was Beauford. Beauford is a Maine Coon cat who we guess to be about two years old. Beauford is the most loving and friendly of our pets and he can often be found sleeping on John’s desk or begging for food. While we have only three cats now, we have seen several animals show up on our doorstep. The pet list could go on… Lucky (a black cat that showed up on Halloween), Clifford the dog, and several other kittens and cats that have been lovingly adopted by our employees.

You might be curious about how we ended up with this many animals. Well, it should be noted that the SPCA is essentially in our backyard. Either they forget to lock the doors or people drop off unwanted animals on their doorstep in the night and the animals escape. We like to think it’s the latter. Regardless, we have taken quite a few animals in and given them loving homes either here or elsewhere. When one shows up, we always take them to the vet to have them checked out and then have them spayed or neutered. In our care, they are given a seemingly endless supply of cat food, a 50,000 square foot indoor playground (sometimes with live toys), and lots of affection by our employees. Stay tuned for future blog posts highlighting the daily lives of Verne, Beauford, and Bobcat!

Made in the USA!

I have a great story. Actually, we have lots of them, but this one stands out in my memory.

We recently purchased some used twisting equipment from a mill in North Carolina. Now, recall if you will, that until the mid-90’s, there were tens of thousands of textile jobs in the area of western North Carolina. Then, for a variety of reasons, those jobs went overseas, devastating that part of the Country. Truly a terrible situation, but I’ll stay out of the politics and economics of the whole thing.

Anyway, we bought several twister frames from a broker. They came out of a mill that was shut down. We brought them up to Northern NY to add to our existing operation that twists very high temperature threads, yarns, and other products. The drivers and riggers that delivered these frames were all quick to point out how great it was that they didn’t deliver them to some port on the east coast to ship out on a freighter to another country. Rather, this time, those twister frames were actually going to a new industrial building in Upstate N.Y., USA! What a great feeling for all of us here at W.F. Lake Corp.! Working together, we were all investing in the future of the United States of America!

W.F. Lake Corp. manufactures all of its products in the U.S.A. and we’re proud of it. Since our founding in 1991, we’ve been especially aware of the need to produce products here at home. We’re fortunate to have been born here and we appreciate it!

It’s interesting to take a look at how important it is to have manufacturers here and to support them when you can. We like to point out that when it comes from the US, the box it came in was likely made in the US, the poly bag in the box, the truck driver that delivered the materials lives here, the guy repairing the truck, the company that put up the building, filled the vending machine, cleans the carpets, plows the driveway… well, you get the idea.

Statistics abound as to how important manufacturing is to the US Economy and I’ll spare you the details, save one.  The highest multiplier effect of any economic sector in the US is manufacturing. Don’t forget the person at the bakery who bakes the cake for “birthday month” and makes the buns for the hot dogs for the impromptu “bosses turn to cook” cookout, and… Sorry, got carried away again.

Made in the U.S.A. matters and we’re proud to say that is what we do!

Send us a note to find out more about what we do and the products we offer! 

Color of PTFE Coated Fiberglass Fabrics, Tapes, and Belts

PTFE Coated fiberglass fabrics, tapes and belts are typically a tan color.  Within the industry, we call this color “Natural”. But if you’ve ever worked with fiberglass fabric (maybe to repair your car or boat), it looks white. And of course it is white until it sees heat, then it turns “tan” or “natural”. Read on if you’d like to find out why!

Fiberglass yarns are made up of very fine filaments of glass fiber. These filaments are amazing little things, but they are, after all, glass and are subject to damage or breakage like any glass product would be.

Imagine very fine fiberglass rods; they’d easily snap and break if not handled very carefully. In order to make fiberglass filaments more durable, a starch “binder” is applied to the filaments to protect them in further handling, braiding, twisting, weaving, etc. These binders are organic… in some cases they are potato starch!

These binders caramelize when they see heat, very similar to a piece of toast turning brown in your toaster! Of course, PTFE coating of fabrics, tapes and belts requires relatively high temperatures to cure the PTFE. That tan color from the binders being heated is then trapped within a translucent PTFE coating, thus making the final product “tan” in color.  We call it “natural” because it is what naturally happens to these binders. You may see slight variations in the tan/natural color of the product because different binders are used on different yarns.

OK, but why are some black in color? That’s because we sometimes add pigment to the PTFE dispersion to achieve different colors or characteristics. Black is often used for several reasons. First and foremost, it is used to pigment belts in ultraviolet curing ovens (most often in the screen printing industry). When under UV lights, the starch binders that make a fabric or belt “tan” will bleach out, turning your tan belt a funny shade of off-white.

Although this in no way impacts the performance of the belt, it is often perceived as a failure. In order to hide that change, we make the belts black. That same black color can mask other things like wicking oils in food processing, ink from screen printers, etc. In some rare cases, specialized pigments (mostly black) are used to try to impart a degree of conductivity to this incredible insulator. In most cases, the point is to create a path to discharge static electricity.

What about other colors? Sure, they can be done but really are very specific to certain industries and not typically an issue in most commercial applications.

Yarns for electrical insulation are an entirely different beast, Yes, we manufacture those as well, but they are another topic entirely!

Again, and as always, contact us with any questions or comments. We’re here to help!