PEEK as a high-performance, temperature-resistant semi-crystalline polymer is often used as a replacement for metals in a wide range of industrial end uses. The observed increase in the use of plastics in industry increases the requirements for dimensional accuracy and quality management. Valued in industrial applications, PEEK is a good example of the benefits of innovation in the field of polymers. At the same time, it is also a good example to illustrate the technological requirements that must be met to make production reasonable.
VSHAPER – the Polish manufacturer of industrial 3D printers, has been specializing in the production of machines dedicated to the production of high temperature materials like PEEK for years. Its offer includes devices for the needs of the manufacturing and medical industries. This is due to the possibilities offered by 3D printing technology for forming complicated, non-standard parts, as well as the mechanical and physical properties of the material itself (high chemical resistance / acids, bases), which allow to avoid inconvenience in the body environment caused by metal parts. High temperature and abrasion resistance allows good work in difficult operating conditions, also with lubricants, which contributes to a wider use in the automotive industry.
High durability, wear and thermal properties mean that the process of forming melted PEEK material requires special parameters of printing machines. The main difficulty in forming PEEK parts during additive manufacturing is the high melting point of this material, which means that models can be subject to a large temperature change during forming. This results in high internal stresses, warping and delamination
A prerequisite for 3D printing with PEEK is maintaining optimal conditions, such as nozzle temperature and the possibility of heat treatment due to the possibility of using a heated chamber and a heated work table. This positively affects the final strength of the formed parts.
To be able to print 3D elements that will stand out not only improved mechanical properties, but also complicated shapes, the use of support material is required. In order to prevent damage during mechanical removal of support structures, VSHAPER has introduced to the market specially designed for 3D printing technology, filament FS11 – a support material soluble in an alkaline aqueous solution. Easy to print technology, FS11 material has strong adhesion to model materials – which directly prevents delamination. In addition to the models printed in PEEK, it can also be used when working with PA, PC, ABS / PC, TPE, ASA, ABS or PET. Importantly, FS11 material dissolves in a mild alkaline solution, which, along with dissolved support material in limited quantities, can be removed directly via the sewage system.
Working with demanding PEEK material requires advanced and technological preparation of its properties and the multitude of applications in the medical, automotive or aviation industry encourages to get acquainted with it closer – therefore professional preparation of the right environment for working with this material will certainly help in efficient and trouble-free 3D printing.