3D Printing PEEK for Profit

By on June 30th, 2015 in materials, printer

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INDMATEC has developed a method of 3D printing PEEK plastic, and they could be the only one that can, at least as a commercial product. 

PEEK is a well-known plastic material, described in Wikipedia as: 

Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is a colourless organic thermoplastic polymer in the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) family, used in engineering applications.

It’s long been used in the manufacture of 3D printers – but not as a material. PEEK’s rather high melting point ~343C, is vastly higher than the highest temperatures occurring during conventional extrusion-based 3D printing, and so it’s been used as material to line hot ends, for example, as it is also highly resistant to thermal degradation and other substances that might compromise it. 

But now Karlsruhe, Germany-based INDMATEC has developed a high-temperature 3D printer that can print PEEK plastic itself. They’ve also produced a PEEK filament you can use in the device. 

The secret to their product is simply to raise the temperature of the hot end sufficiently to melt PEEK, apparently up to 420C (!) – but also to account for the increased radiated heat among surrounding printer components, too. They also had to perform tuning of printing parameters to discover the optimum settings for printing PEEK. They’ve also had to invent a print surface capable of adhering sufficiently to PEEK for printing. 

This high heat and the requirement for accurate printing means they must enclose the print engine in a 155 x 155 x 155mm build volume suitable for the elevated heat levels. 

There’s no word on pricing yet, as the company is still in startup mode, but we expect the pricing to be well beyond hobbyist levels, as their target market for this unusual machine is clearly industrial users. However, it is quite possible their price levels may be significantly lower than, say, Stratasys, who sell FDM machines capable of printing ULTEM, another high-temperature plastic. 


By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!