Poly ether ether ketone in 3D Printing

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has rapidly evolved, transforming industries from aerospace to healthcare. One of the game-changers in this field is the introduction of advanced materials like Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK). Renowned for its exceptional properties, PEEK is pushing the boundaries of what's possible in 3D printing, offering new levels of performance and application potential.

What is PEEK?

Polyether Ether Ketone, abbreviated as PEEK, is a high-performance engineering thermoplastic. It belongs to the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) family of polymers, known for their ability to withstand harsh environments. PEEK’s impressive characteristics include high-temperature resistance, chemical inertness, excellent mechanical properties, and biocompatibility.

Figure 1. 3D printing of polyether-ether-ketone.Figure 1. 3D printing of polyether-ether-ketone for biomedical applications. (Sunpreet Singh, et al.; 2019)

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Why PEEK in 3D Printing?

The adoption of PEEK in 3D printing is driven by its unique combination of properties, making it suitable for demanding applications where other materials fall short. Here’s a deeper look at why PEEK is becoming a cornerstone material in additive manufacturing:

Temperature Resistance: PEEK can withstand continuous temperatures of up to 250°C (482°F) and short-term exposures to even higher temperatures. This makes it ideal for components exposed to high thermal loads, such as parts in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Chemical Resistance: PEEK is highly resistant to a wide range of chemicals, including acids, bases, and organic solvents. This resistance is crucial for applications in the chemical processing industry, where components are regularly exposed to corrosive substances.

Mechanical Strength: PEEK exhibits excellent strength and stiffness, maintaining its mechanical properties even at elevated temperatures. It can endure significant mechanical stress, making it suitable for structural components and parts that need to bear heavy loads.

Wear and Abrasion Resistance: PEEK's ability to resist wear and abrasion extends the lifespan of parts made from it, even in challenging environments. This is particularly beneficial for moving parts in machinery that experience constant friction.

Biocompatibility: PEEK is biocompatible and has been approved for use in medical implants. Its inert nature means it doesn’t react with biological tissues, making it suitable for applications like spinal implants, dental implants, and other medical devices.

Applications of PEEK in 3D Printing

The exceptional properties of PEEK make it an attractive choice for various high-performance applications. Let’s explore some of the key areas where PEEK is making a significant impact:

Aerospace: In the aerospace industry, weight reduction is critical for improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. PEEK’s high strength-to-weight ratio makes it an excellent replacement for metal parts. Components such as brackets, clamps, and housings benefit from the material’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures and mechanical stress.

Automotive: Similar to aerospace, the automotive sector seeks to reduce vehicle weight to enhance performance and efficiency. PEEK is used for parts under the hood that must endure high temperatures and exposure to chemicals, such as fuel line components and electrical connectors.

Medical: The medical field leverages PEEK’s biocompatibility for creating implants and other medical devices. 3D printing with PEEK allows for the customization of patient-specific implants, improving outcomes in procedures like spinal surgeries. Additionally, its radiolucency (transparency to X-rays) aids in post-operative imaging without interference.

Oil and Gas: The oil and gas industry demands materials that can handle extreme conditions. PEEK is used for seals, bearings, and valve components due to its ability to resist chemical corrosion and high temperatures, ensuring reliability in harsh environments.

Electronics: In electronics, PEEK’s thermal and electrical insulation properties make it suitable for applications like connectors, insulators, and other high-performance electronic components. Its stability under heat and resistance to chemical damage ensure longevity and reliability.

The Challenges of 3D Printing with PEEK

While PEEK offers remarkable benefits, 3D printing with this material presents certain challenges that must be addressed to fully harness its potential:

High Printing Temperatures: PEEK requires extrusion temperatures between 350°C and 400°C, which are significantly higher than those needed for more common 3D printing materials like PLA or ABS. This necessitates specialized 3D printers capable of maintaining these high temperatures.

Warpage and Adhesion Issues: Due to its high crystallinity, PEEK tends to warp during the cooling process, making bed adhesion challenging. Effective strategies include using heated print beds, controlled cooling environments, and specialized adhesives to minimize warping and ensure dimensional accuracy.

Post-Processing: PEEK parts often require post-processing to achieve the desired surface finish and mechanical properties. Annealing processes can be used to improve crystallinity and reduce internal stresses, enhancing the part's overall performance.

Cost: PEEK is more expensive compared to many other 3D printing materials. This cost factor can be a barrier for some applications, although its superior properties often justify the investment for high-performance requirements.

Future Prospects and Innovations

The future of PEEK in 3D printing looks promising, with ongoing research and development focused on overcoming current limitations and expanding its applications. Innovations in printer technology, such as more precise temperature control and improved build platforms, are making it easier to print with PEEK.

Moreover, advancements in composite PEEK materials, which combine PEEK with fibers like carbon or glass, are enhancing its properties further. These composites offer even greater strength and rigidity, opening new possibilities for applications requiring ultra-high performance.

Another exciting development is the integration of PEEK with other advanced manufacturing technologies. For example, combining 3D printing with traditional machining techniques can produce hybrid parts that leverage the strengths of both methods, optimizing performance and cost-effectiveness.


Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK) is revolutionizing the field of 3D printing, offering unmatched properties that cater to the most demanding industrial applications. Its high-temperature resistance, chemical inertness, mechanical strength, and biocompatibility make it a material of choice for sectors ranging from aerospace and automotive to medical and electronics.

Despite the challenges associated with 3D printing PEEK, ongoing innovations and technological advancements are paving the way for broader adoption and more efficient manufacturing processes. As the capabilities of 3D printing technologies continue to evolve, PEEK will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, driving new breakthroughs and setting new standards in the world of additive manufacturing.


  1. Sunpreet Singh, et al.; 3D printing of polyether-ether-ketone for biomedical applications. European Polymer Journal. 2019, Volume 114, Pages 234-248.
For research use only, not intended for any clinical use.