Does anyone have experience with 3d printing of PEEK?

I want to upgrade my 3d Printer (UM2 Ex+) to a HT-Printer.

What kind of Thermistor did you use (type_K)?
Did you build an enclosure for your Printer?
How did you manage the temperature inside of your Printer?

4 Answers

PEEK is an incredible material. Used in several mission critical applications such as a cost effective replacement for ceramics, orthopedic implants, and electrical systems. PEEK under traditional manufacturing methods is also a real challenge to manufacture a finished part. PEEK can me machined and hold tight tolerances very similar to compare to aluminum as far as softness and ease of machining. To 3D print PEEK is a whole new ball game. Some extruders currently use PEEK in the hot end itself. Take Printrbot for example, their first and third generation extruders use a PEEK shell directly connecting to the stainless steel hot end. PEEK melts at around 650*f 345*c which is quite high, this makes it a great engineering polymer but not very good for 3D printing.

Currently thre isn't enough market or industrial data to

Currently there isn't enough market or industrial data to give an accurate perspective on what tools and resources are required. The effects of PEEK being extruded through a small diameter nozzle haven't really been noted, more or less because of the cost involved. Such an extruder would have to withstand temperatures upwards 800*f and to my knowledge there aren't any readily available software systems that support a temp range that high. Of course the machine would have to be enclosed, anything else wouldn't be an option. Then getting a thermistor that accurate at high temperatures would also be a huge challenge. I would recommend consulting an engineering firm on this. I look at it this way, PEEK is not a common polymer and if someone could perfect the technique or filament or possibly the machine you may have a solid part in that market. It may be well worth the professional help.

I have not printed Peek or Ultem but there ARE machines designed specifically for printing with these materials and other high temp/high performance plastics.

The machines are VERY different from a typical desktop 3D printer because the entire build volume needs to be heated to print any larger parts - and by heated... 200C and higher - just for the print environment!

Essentially, you are printing your part in a closed convection oven.

Correspondingly, the extruders are quite different and can work up to seemingly outrageous temperatures.

That said, NASA did an experiment with doing simple modifications to see how easily they could modify a traditional FDM printer to handle PEEK - they had some success with their program and showed that it really isn't out of reach.

I have also seen some HUGE mold parts printed out of these plastics - so there are people routinely printing in these materials - both with purpose built and modified machines. The parts I saw were nearly a meter square and then joined to for the complete mold.

PEEK also machines really well and I have made machined parts with it

Unfortunately these plastics, as solids, pellets or filament, are very expensive compared to the routine filaments more commonly used - you don't want to have printing failures or waste any more material than absolutely necessary - for support, wipe towers/walls or any other reason.

I still make use of the normal ABS, PLA, and PETG plastics to prepare the 3D printed objects and have never offered a shot to the PEEK.

However, after I read all the properties of the material, I certainly think it could be a great successor to the currently used products.