PEEK 3D printing - Tips, examples, advantages and more...
More and more companies are using PEEK 3D printing. Within the 3D industry, PEEK is one of the top notch materials, otherwise known is polyether ether ketone. It is a colorless, organic thermoplastic polymer that achieves some of the best results out of all thermoplastics worldwide. It is part of the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) family.
PEEK 3D printing filament has a wide range of unique qualities. All of these make PEEK a very interesting choice for a number of different industries around the world such as Medical, Oil and Gas Industry, Aerospace and Automotive. It is the ideal choice for low-volume production and specialist designs where it is difficult to create prototypes using metal and traditional techniques.
Dielectric strength: neutral
Dimensional stability: low
Impact strength: very high
Durability: very high
Heat resistance: very high
Chemical resistance: very high
Flame retardant: yes
Water resistance: high
Wear resistance: very high
Glass transition temperature: 145 degrees Celsius (293 °F)
Melting temperature: 345 degrees Celsius (653 °F)
Nozzle temperature: 370-410 degrees Celsius
Heated bed: 120-150 degrees Celsius
PEEK 3D printing is quite expensive and you need a well-performing high temperature 3D printer to get the expected result.
PEEK features explained
PEEK is used in a number of applications that require equipment which can withstand extreme temperatures. Its temperature resistance can go up to 260 degrees Celsius. PEEK also has the ability to handle corrosive fluids, gases and high pressures which makes it the ideal choice for a number of industries. The medical industry is keen on PEEK 3D printing and is adopting it in its manufacturing processes due to the fact that it has a low moisture absorption. Another advantage for medical use: PEEK is easy to sterilize.
However, even though it does have the ability to withstand high temperatures, once it reaches a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius, it has great difficulty in resisting Chlorine/Bromide, Fluorine, HF and HBr, concentrated Sulphur and Nitric acids as well as Ketones and Nitrobenzene. The temperature at which the polymer structure turns “viscous liquid or rubbery" is 145 degrees Celsius, this is called the Glass Transition Temperature.
PEEK can also be weakened when it is subjected to UV radiation. Combating this issue is a case of adding a layer of pigment that consists of special soot particles. Without the addition of additives, the flammability of PEEK remains low with one other beneficial feature being the fact that smoke emission is considerably low, the lowest of all thermoplastics when it combusts.
While PEEK certainly has a high price tag, it has some amazing capabilities that other materials simply don’t have. Therefore, it just might be worth using it!
The advantages of PEEK 3D printing
1. Enhanced performance
Enhanced performance benefits include everything from extending lifetime by eliminating corrosion, increasing fuel efficiency with lower friction, and handling higher loads/speeds to operating in more extreme chemical environments.
2. Weight reductions of up to 80%
With 3D printing thermoplastics you can create lightweight objects that are still strong. The inherent low specific gravity of PEEK (1.3 g/cm3) is less than half that of aluminum and one sixth that of steel. Maintenance costs, logistics, installation – all see significant cost reductions in tandem with a decreased part weight. If you were to take a part made from steel made by metal additive manufacturing and compare it to the same part made from thermoplastic, the plastic part could be more than 6 times lighter.
3. Less waste
It creates minimal waste. Because, compared to metal additive manufacturing, 3D printing thermoplastic helps increase material efficiency it is used a lot in product development. Thermoplastic materials can be melted, cured (cooled down such that they become solid), melted again, cured again, and so forth. Therefor manufacturing waste can be reused (thus preventing it from becoming “waste” in the first place).
4. Greater design freedom
Greater design freedom comes from PEEK’s amazing processing versatility which allows complex geometries to be molded-in without labor intensive post-machining steps. This, in turn, helps engineers improve on performance while reducing total system cost. Simply said, you can make objects that can’t be made with metal additive manufacturing. Even with today’s technology, metal’s inherent characteristics prohibit complex part designs or shapes, such as compound curves or fluid designs from either a material capability or cost limitation.
PEEK 3D printing tips
Let's learn you now everything about PEEK 3D printing. While you can print many amazing things with it, some universities and research institutes still have a number of issues when processing it. It is important to take these issues into account when deciding to start with PEEK 3D printing so you know what you can expect.
1. Control the temperature
Due to the fact that PEEK does not react well under fluctuation in temperature, it is crucial to ensure that your 3D printer has a adequate thermal manage and closed build chamber. PEEK can be 3D printed in temperatures that range from 370 degrees to 450 degrees. The bed temperature should always be at a minimum of 120 degrees. As with all 3D printing this is also true for PEEK 3D printing; the slower the 3D printing speed, the more accurate is the end result. Learn more about the temperature control of Tractus3D PEEK printer.
2. Look out for black specks
Many users have experienced black specks during PEEK 3D printing. There are a number of reasons as to why this could happen of which one is the impurity of PEEK as a material. However, to get the most from this material, you do require a high quality 3D printer. When a printer is not functioning correctly and does not manage the process and temperatures, this could result in PEEK beginning to speck. However, all Tractus3D printers have closed chambers and this enables the temperatures to be managed and controlled correctly.
3. Maintain a clean nozzle
Once the PEEK 3D printing process has come to an end, remove all leftover material from the nozzle as this will ensure that the nozzle does not become blocked which eventually can lead to specking. When you have bought a Tractus 3D PEEK printer, as part of our Service Level Agreement, we will clean the nozzle for you for free.
4. Prevent improper crystallization
Often, during the PEEK 3D printing process, improper crystallization can occur. If a part has a brown discoloration as opposed to a beige colour, it could identify the problem of improper crystallization. If there are different colours within the printed object then it could be a sign that the temperature was not controlled sufficiently during the PEEK 3D printing process. Tractus3D printers have a closed chamber and so you don’t have to worry about crystallization.
5. Ensure minimal temperature fluctuations
To get the best results while 3D printing PEEK, you are advised to keep the 3D printer in a room with minimal temperature fluctuations. This means you should keep the 3D printer out of the sun and you should not place it in an area in which people congregate.
6. Keep the PEEK filament dry
When you are not 3D printing with PEEK, you should keep the material in a bag and stored in a cool, dry and dark place until you wish to use it again. By doing this, you will preserve the quality of the material and ensure that the result of the printing process is as expected.
Examples of how PEEK 3D printing is used
3D printed BMW custom motorcycle parts cost 90% less
3D printing custom bike parts has enabled Joost Motoren to widen their service and take on more customers while it also means that there is no limit to what they can achieve. 3D printing the parts makes it possible for Joost Motoren to create the final part in just a few hours. There is no longer the need to rely and wait on external suppliers. It also means that the designs of the 3D printed bike parts became owned by Joost Motoren and this safeguards the intellectual property of the company.
The old methods involve trial and error and used to be time-consuming. Since the implementation of 3D printing into their working processes, the delivering time and number of errors have been significantly reduced. There are less people involved and there are no physical products to break or damage. “For my customers, this service has an enormous advantage as I could really fulfill all of their wishes and they were no longer dependent on the standard retail parts. I can 3D Print the hard to find spare parts now.” Read more here about the advantages of 3D printing for Joost Motoren.
Developing customized orthopedic solutions
The results for Orto+ are quite phenomenal as there is now a level of accuracy that comes with PEEK 3D printing that has never been seen before. Orto+ now has the ability to create many different kinds of 3D printed prosthetics that are anatomically correct and designed around the needs of each user. Alongside this, the process is also more cost effective and efficient. PEEK 3D printing offers them the possibility to alter the whole production process in a way that has never been seen before.
Creating orthopaedic models using traditional methods involved specialist technicians who have the experience, skills, knowledge and training to manage the task. However, now the whole process is automated while customization is taken to a whole new level. “On average it takes 2-3 design iterations before a design is finalized. Through using 3D printing, we can simply create individual designs in a timeframe that is shorter, more cost efficient and require a lot less labour.” You can read more here about the benefits of 3D printing for Orto+.
Industries that use PEEK 3D printing
Due to the way in which PEEK performs, many different industries and markets have adopted PEEK 3D printing as a way to create product parts and prototypes. It has many capabilities that work in its favour and that has made it the ‘go to’ high-performance material to use in 3D printing. Its reliability and ability to print with great accuracy enables it to deliver a product that looks good, is durable, strong and usable.
There are many extruded forms of PEEK such as convoluted tubing and drawn fiber, all of which can be used as lightweight wire management products. Therefore, an example of this would be a wire that has been constructed with PEEK offering a level of abrasion resistance that can be used as a wire coating over solid or braided conductors. See an example of how 3D printing is used to make Radio Controlled Planes lighter and more agile.
PEEK 3D printing offers a wide range of benefits to the automotive industry and so, it has become a process that is widely used. However, mainly, it is used for prototyping and to protect wires as well as offer a lighter alternative to other types of protection for wires. Its lightweight properties help to make vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient. In fact, with a new generation of electronic vehicles hitting the market, PEEK 3D printing can also help to improve the performance of the electronics within a vehicle.
PEEK 3D printing is also being used in the medical industry due to the fact that it offers a number of advantages. It has a columnar stiffness and tight bend radius within thin walls which makes it perfect for manoeuvring catheters through the body. As PEEK is considered an advanced biomaterial it is also used in medical implants. See an example of how 3D printing is used to develop customised prosthetics.
Carbon PEEK, next level material
Fairly new on the market, and compatible with Tractus3D PEEK printers, is Carbon PEEK filament. Carbon PEEK gives better mechanical qualities to parts than any other existing 3D printing material. The combination of the high-performance polymer PEEK and Carbon fiber means that this is the strongest polymer 3D printing material which can be 3D printed today. With excellent mechanical properties, resistance to thermal degradation and excellent strength this is ideal material for use by UAVs, space, commercial aviation and industry.
PEEK 3D printing with a Tractus3D High Temperature printer
✓ Most advanced ✓ Competitively priced ✓ You are always covered
Incl. Heated Chamber
Build volume (mm): 300 diameter x 380 height
Nozzle temperature: 450 degrees Celsius
Build Plate temperature: 175 degrees Celsius
At Tractus3D we see major possibilities in 3D printing PEEK. It has the possibility to play a big part in future inventions and developments as 3D printing is easy to incorporate in work processes, without having to make a large investment with risk of no return. This is exactly why we are proud of our PEEK Series 3D printers, that print at very high temperatures and enables the use of PEEK.
Temperatures up to 450 degrees
Inside the printers (extruder), the temperature can reach as high as 450 degrees Celsius. Many other forms of 3D printers would suffer with internal burning if the temperature ever reached this high.
High accuracy and speed
Even though these 3D printers can handle temperatures up to 450 degrees, they offer the same high level of accuracy and speed as the other printers we offer. This means that you will never have to compromise on quality because you want to print materials that require high temperatures.
Flexibility in material choice
You are not just limited to PEEK because there are a wide range of materials also available for use in our 3D PEEK printers such as PLA, ABS, PEI/ Ultem™, POM and many more.
When it comes to competition, there is not a huge amount out there offering 3D printers like this, especially not at this price. Of course you want to compare. We would do the same! We strive to provide the absolute best 3D printers to the communities we serve, at affordable prices.
We routinely monitor prices of our competitors to ensure that we have the best offer possible. We are very proud that Tractus3D is in the overview of Aniwaa: 'Best PEEK 3D printers and ULTEM® 3D printers'.