This week’s question is about the availability of ceramic PEEK filament.
Reader Tarek writes:
“I am Dr. Tarek El Awadly, a dentist located in Egypt. I am fascinated with PEEK material and [its] medical uses, and I have already published two papers on them. Now I am preparing my PhD project in The Netherlands and I decided to 3D print ceramic filled PEEK. I found companies who can help in printing but do not have the opportunity to produce the filament.”
Ceramic-filled PEEK is a new one to me. PEEK, a well-regarded high-temperature 3D printing material, is now frequently used to produce end-use parts that are quite robust. Sometimes you’ll see higher grades of PEEK 3D printer filament that are filled with some ratio of PEEK and a reinforcing agent, typically glass or carbon fibers.
These materials are incredibly strong and retain the heat resistance of plain PEEK. In some cases these materials are so strong they can literally be used as replacement for metal parts, depending on the application.
Ceramic-filled PEEK material, however, seems to be a rarity. In some searches I was unable to identify a supplier of 3D printer filament of this type.
Ceramic PEEK Material
However, I did find evidence that this material does indeed exist in industry.
In the US, Professional Plastics, an organization with 20 outlets across that country, seems to supply a material called “CeramaPEEK”, which is indeed ceramic-filled PEEK. However, they provide it only in sheets.
Another company, Texas-based CCT Precision Machining, offers the capability to CNC machine Ceramic PEEK material. Again it’s pretty clear this is a material that really exists.
However, I found only one source for this rare material: China-based Jiangsu Chaoju High Performance Polymers (PEEK) Technology Co., Ltd., who claim to be a “ceramic peek supplier” on their Alibaba listing. They can provide PEEK in a variety of sheet, tube and rod formats. They don’t mention 3D printer filament.
Ceramic PEEK Filament
One approach would be to simply ask them if they could provide ceramic PEEK material in 3D printer filament form, but they may not have a filament extrusion line set up, nor may they know how to do so with proper tolerances as are required on today’s 3D printers.
One likely issue with this approach is that you would probably have to contract for delivery of a large quantity of the product. As in, an entire pallet of material, at the very least. That could be financially prohibitive.
Another approach could be to approach a cooperative manufacturer of 3D printer filament, particularly one that offers exotic materials like PEEK. If you could convince them to try a batch of ceramic PEEK, perhaps sourced from Jiangsu, you might be able to obtain this unusual filament. The filament supplier would also be able to trial the no doubt unique product in the 3D printing marketplace to see if it has a place.
If neither of those options works out, I am not sure how to proceed. Perhaps readers will know of a source for ceramic PEEK filament? If so, let us know in the comments below.
If this mystery material does exist, I suspect it could have a number of unusual applications. It’s curious why it has not yet appeared on product shelves.