Understanding PEEK Material

Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) is a semicrystalline thermoplastic polymer used for engineering applications. Developed in the late 1970s, it was first used as a high-temperature resistant material for cable insulation. It is now used in numerous applications where high thermal properties are required—its high thermal stability allows PEEK material to be used continuously at a high temperature of up to 482° F/250° C for a long time and almost 750° F/400° C for a short time.

PEEK material is light weight, stiff, and has excellent mechanical strength and dimensional stability. It also has good combustion resistance, good corrosion resistance, and good resistance to x-rays and Beta and gamma rays. Its excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties are retained in high temperature applications, making it particularly useful in the medical/pharmaceutical, aircraft and aerospace, fluid handling, electrical/electronics manufacturing, automotive, food processing, and petroleum industries.

What is PEEK material used for?

PEEK is widely used in industrial applications (aerospace, automotive, and electronics), medical applications (devices and implants) and FDA-approved food and beverage applications (food production and food processing). Some uses for PEEK material include:

  • Automotive industry: washers and bearings, pistons
  • Aerospace: interior and exterior parts, such as aircraft fairings, radomes, fuel valves, and ducting
  • Electrical: wire coating, semiconductor wafer carriers, and electrical components and connectors
  • Medical: autoclave components, biomedical implants, such as orthopedic devices, dental implants, and healing caps
  • Food and beverage: food packaging and production; beverage bottling production processes

What are the different PEEK materials?

PEEK materials are available in different sizes, shapes, and colors to meet different needs. Common shapes include rods, sheets, and tubes. The processing of PEEK material (injection molding, extrusion, compression molding) influences its mechanical properties.

Here are 3 different types of PEEK material that are commonly available:

  • PEEK Natural:  the toughest grade of PEEK plastic with the highest level of elongation
  • PEEK Glass Filled: added glass fiber reinforcements to reduce the expansion rate and increase the bending modulus
  • PEEK Carbon Filled: added carbon fiber reinforcements to increase the level of rigidity and creep strength

What are the Benefits of Glass Filled or Carbon Filled PEEK material?

  • Excellent mechanical and chemical resistance
  • Highly resistant to thermal degradation
  • Excellent strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability
  • Easy to process
  • Lightweight compared to steel, aluminum, and titanium
  • Low coefficient of friction
  • High wear resistance without lubrication

What are the Benefits of PEEK Natural material?

  • 480° F relative thermal index temperature
  • Excellent flexural and tensile properties
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Good abrasive resistance
  • Excellent strength, rigidity and toughness, even at elevated temperatures
  • Superior electrical properties
  • Exceptional dimensional stability
  • Easily machined and fabricated
  • Bearing and wear grade offers lower coefficient of friction and improved wear resistance
  •  Extreme chemical resistance, good mechanical properties
  •  Low toxicity when exposed to flames

Are there any disadvantages to PEEK material?

If there is major one, it’s the price. While it is widely used in the above-mentioned applications, its cost limits its use to only those demanding applications. Beyond cost, other limitations include a low resistance to UV light and a propensity to be affected by halogens and acids such as Sulphuric, Nitric, and Chromic.