PEEK is one of the most popular high performance plastic materials currently on the market.  But what makes PEEK such a dynamic material?

PEEK or Polyetheretherketone refers to a semi-crystalline organic polymer thermoplastic exhibiting a highly stable chemical structure, which gives it an edge over other materials. It is a member of the Polyaryletherketone or PAEK polymer group. There are exclusive PEEK properties which make this material find numerous applications in various industries.

Some of PEEK's material properties:

  • Chemical resistance: PEEK displays high resistance amidst a wide range of chemical environments, even including high temperatures. It can only be dissolved in concentrated nitric acid or sulphuric acid.
  • Long life: It is a hard, stiff and strong polymer.  It displays good friction as well as wear properties.  
  • Hydrolysis resistance: PEEK material can be exposed for a long period of time to high pressure water and steam without exhibiting any serious degradation.
  • High temperature resistance: When the process temperatures go beyond the limit of what conventional plastic materials can withstand, it is advisable to go for PEEK.

Applications of PEEK material in different industries:

1)  Aerospace:

  • PEEK is ideal for exterior aerospace conditions where the material comes into contact with atmospheric particles and low temperatures.  The material is also favored because it is light weight, chemically inert, and relatively inexpensive.

2) Filter Manufacturing:

  • Biodiesel fuel filters: Biodiesel has been recognized worldwide as an alternative channel of energy because of its immense benefits. However, biodiesel degraded the standard filters as these were prepared from PA. PEEK is not effected by biodiesel and hence provides good sustainability for a long time.
  • Membrane spacer-battery: This is a mixed material which is used to separate different layers in a battery. PEEK, with a thickness of 50 microns, is thinner than the conventionally used polypropylene at 195 microns. Again, due to good resistance to acid and chemicals along with controlled porosity, PEEK is considered a high quality material to produce modern products.  

3)  Healthcare:

  • Implant Material: PEEK is quite flexible, durable and strong in nature. It does not harm body or skin so it is very useful to repair soft tissues and grafts.
  • Dialysis pump filter: In dialysis, malfunction of the pumping mechanism causes severe problems and hence a good pump is required which is not effected by heat or cold. For this reason, PEEK, which has a high temperature resistance and low moisture absorption, is an apt choice.

4)  Food and Beverage:

  • Food drying: Processes requiring dehydration for the production of powders, pastes and granules demand temperatures as high as 150°C. Currently PET fabrics are used but when temperatures as high as 190°C are required along with the same characteristics and shrinkage level as PET, Polyetheretherketone is a very good option.     
  • Feed drying: At the end of production, some animal foods are dried on a belt which reaches a temperature of 150°C. PEEK is the material often used in this application because of its high temperature resistance.

5)  Chemical and Pharmaceutical:

  • Pharmaceutical products including centrifuges and disc filters: Medical equipment is cleaned at temperatures reaching up to cleaned 150°C. Many plastic materials such as PA, PET, E-CTFE, PVDF can’t sustain such a high temperature. PEEK is extremely suitable for this kind of filter as it stays the same even at high temperatures and provides good flexibility. Moreover, it is less susceptible to contamination and is also available at an affordable price.
  • Vacuum belt filters: Vacuum belt filtration is a process where chemicals are de-watered and dried by being run through a filter on a belt.  Different kinds of chemical manufacturers like to use PEEK to make the filter itself more than polyester, which is less durable.  There's a ton of info on this process on the internet, watch this basic video to get an idea.  

The exclusive PEEK properties make this material suitable for a wide range of applications. As the demand grows, more applications are likely to come up in the near future.

Have you used PEEK before?  Let me know about your experience in the comments section below.

Looking for more information on PEEK and other high performance materials?  Download our free guide!

 

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