PEEK material

More and more companies are starting to use PEEK material for 3D printing. Within the 3D industry, PEEK polymer is one of the top notch materials. PEEK is also known as 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 filament has a wide range of unique qualities. Therefor making PEEK a very interesting choice for a number of different industries. Industries as medical, oil and gas industry, aerospace and automotive already adapted the PEEK as one of the main materials. It is the ideal choice for low-volume production and specialist designs where it is difficult to create prototypes using metal and traditional techniques.

Specifications for PEEK

Features
Dielectric strengthNeutral
Dimensional stabilityLow
Impact strengthVery high
DurabilityVery high
FlexibilityLow
Resistance
Heat resistanceVery high
Chemical resistanceVery high
Flame retardantYes
Water resistanceHigh
Wear resistanceVery high
Temperatures
Glass transition temperature145 ‎°C (293 °F)
Melting temperature345 ‎°C (653 °F)
Nozzle temperature370 - 410 ‎°C
Heated bed120 - 150 ‎°C

PEEK Polymer features

The temperature resistance of PEEK goes up to  260 degrees Celsius. Therefor PEEK material is used in a lot of applications that require equipment which can withstand extreme temperatures. PEEK also has the ability to handle corrosive fluids, gases and high pressures. The medical industry is keen on PEEK material as well and is adopting it in it’s manufacturing processes due to the fact that it has a low moisture absorption and is easy to sterilize.

Some chemical resistances get less at high temperatures

However, even though it does have the ability to withstand high temperatures, once it reaches a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius. After that temperature it has great difficulty in resisting chemicals like 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.

Down points of PEEK filament

PEEK 3D printing is quite expensive and you need a well-performing high temperature 3D printer to get the expected result. While PEEK certainly has a high price tag, it has some amazing capabilities that other materials simply don’t have.

 

The advantages of PEEK material

1. Enhanced performance

The enhanced performance benefits includes endless examples. 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 AM, 3D printing thermoplastic helps increase material efficiency it’s 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

PEEK gives greater design freedom. Amazing processing versatility allows complex geometries to be molded-in without labor intensive post-machining steps. This helps engineers improve on performance while reducing total system cost. Simply said, you can make objects that can’t be made with metal AM. 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.

  • Extremely strong
  • Easy to sterilize
  • Great resistence

Top 5 tips for using PEEK filament

While you can print many amazing things with PEEK filament, there a still some things to keep in mind when processing it. When using PEEK filament the wrong way, it can cause multiple issues. It is important to take this into account when deciding to start with 3D printing with PEEK material so you know what you can expect. To help you with 3D printing PEEK filament, we’re giving you our 5 tips for using PEEK filament:

  1. 1. Control the temperature and minimize fluctuations

Due to the fact that PEEK does not react well under fluctuation in temperature, it is crucial to ensure two things. First of all make sure that your 3D printer has an adequate thermal manage. Secondly a closed build chamber is needed. 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.

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.

  1. 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. First of all it could be due to 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. Enabeling the management of temperatures correctly.

  1. 3. Maintain a clean nozzle

Once the PEEK 3D printing process has come to an end, remove all leftover material from the nozzle. Ensuring that the nozzle doesn’t become blocked, which eventually can lead to specking. When you have bought a Tractus3D PEEK printer, as part of our Service Level Agreement, we will clean the nozzle for you for free.

  1. 4. Prevent improper crystallization

Often, during the printing process of PEEK material, improper crystallization can occur. If a part has a brown discoloration as opposed to a beige color, it could identify the problem of improper crystallization. If there are different colors within the printed object then it could be a sign that the temperature was not controlled sufficiently during the print process. Tractus3D printers have a closed chamber and so you don’t have to worry about crystallization.

  1. 5. Keep the PEEK filament dry

When you are not 3D printing with PEEK, you should keep the material in a sealed bag.  Always store PEEK in a cool, dry and dark place until you 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.

Industries that use PEEK material

Due to the way in which PEEK material 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 it’s favor. Hence the fact it’s the ‘go to’ high-performance material 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.

Aerospace

There are many extruded forms of the PEEK polymer 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.

Automotive

PEEK material offers a wide range of benefits to the automotive industry. 3D Printing PEEK 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 material can also help to improve the performance of the electronics within a vehicle.

Medical

PEEK polymer 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 maneuvering catheters through the body. As PEEK is considered an advanced biomaterial it is also used in medical implants.

Carbon PEEK, next level material

  • Carbon PEEK filament fairly new, it gives better mechanical qualities to parts than any other existing 3D printing material. The combination of the high-performance polymer PEEK and Carbon fibers means that this is the strongest polymer for 3D printing. With excellent mechanical properties, resistance to thermal degradation and excellent strength.

PEEK 3D Printers
T850P
The T850P is the small high temperature industrial 3D printer in our PRO series.
T650P
The T650P is the small high temperature industrial 3D printer in our PRO series.

Other 3D filaments