What Is PEEK?
PEEK, short for polyetheretherketone, is a high-performance thermoplastic polymer belonging to the family of polyaryletherketones (PAEKs). It is a semi-crystalline material famous for its exceptional mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties. Developed in the early 1980s, PEEK has gained significant prominence in various industries due to its unique combination of properties.
Key Characteristics of PEEK
- Mechanical Strength
PEEK exhibits outstanding mechanical strength, making it suitable for demanding applications. Its tensile strength can reach up to 100 MPa, which is significantly higher than other engineering plastics such as nylon or PTFE. This attribute enables PEEK to withstand high stress and load-bearing requirements.
- Thermal Stability
PEEK is known for its excellent thermal stability. It can withstand continuous operating temperatures up to 260°C (500°F) and short-term exposure to even higher temperatures. This quality makes PEEK a preferred choice in high-temperature environments, where traditional thermoplastics often fail.
- Chemical Resistance
PEEK possesses excellent chemical resistance to a wide range of substances, including acids, bases, solvents, oils, and even some harsh industrial chemicals. This makes it an ideal material for applications where exposure to aggressive chemicals is expected.
- Wear and Friction Properties
PEEK has low friction and wear characteristics, making it suitable for applications that involve sliding or rubbing components. Its self-lubricating properties reduce the need for additional lubrication, thereby increasing operational efficiency.
- Electrical Insulation
PEEK exhibits high dielectric strength and low dielectric loss, making it an excellent electrical insulator. This property makes PEEK suitable for electrical and electronic applications, where insulation is critical.
PEEK is biocompatible, meaning it is well-tolerated by living tissues and has low levels of cytotoxicity. This makes it suitable for use in medical and dental implants, as well as other healthcare applications.
- Typical performance comparison of PEEK and filled PEEK
|Property||Unit||Unfilled PEEK||PEEK -30% Carbon Fiber||PEEK -330% Glass Fiber|
|Dielectric Constant||3.2||3.2 - 3.4||3.3 - 4.2|
|Dielectric Strength||kV/mm||20||18.5 - 19||15 - 24|
|Volume Resistivity||x 1015 Ohm.cm||16 - 17||1 - 8||15 - 16|
|Elongation at Break||%||30 - 150||1 - 3||2 - 3|
|Flexibility (Flexural Modulus)||GPa||3.7 - 4||13 - 19||9 - 10|
|Young Modulus||GPa||3.5 - 3.9||13 - 22.3||9 - 11.4|
|Toughness (Notched Izod Impact at Room Temperature)||J/m||80 - 94||85 - 120||95 - 130|
|Density||g/cm3||1.26 - 1.32||1.4 - 1.44||1.49 - 1.54|
|Thermal Insulation (Thermal Conductivity)||W/m.K||0.25||0.9 - 0.95||0.43|
Applications of PEEK
- Biomedical applications
PEEK has gained increasing attention in the medical field due to its biocompatibility, high mechanical strength, and resistance to wear and corrosion. It is used in orthopedic implants, spinal fusion devices, dental applications, and other biomedical devices.
- 3D printing with PEEK
PEEK is a popular material for additive manufacturing, particularly in industries like aerospace and automotive. Manufacturing complex parts with high-performance requirements using 3D printing techniques has been a significant area of research.
- High-temperature applications
PEEK's excellent thermal stability and resistance to high temperatures make it suitable for use in extreme conditions. It is used in industries where parts are exposed to high temperatures, such as oil and gas, automotive, and aerospace.
- PEEK coatings and surface modifications
Enhancing the surface properties of PEEK through coatings and modifications to improve its wear resistance, biocompatibility, and reduce friction is an ongoing area of exploration. This could have applications in medical implants, automotive components, and industrial equipment.
- Electronics and Electrical Engineering
In the electronics and electrical engineering industries, PEEK is employed in a range of applications due to its excellent electrical properties and high dielectric strength. It is extensively used in cable insulation, connector materials, and printed circuit boards (PCBs). PEEK's high temperature resistance allows it to withstand the heat generated by electronic components, making it ideal for use in high-performance applications.
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