PEEK, which is the original of the ketone based high performance polymers that are classified as polyaryletherketones (PAEKs) is an impressively durable polymer, offering a combination of resistances that makes it invaluable in extreme applications. These applications include uses in industries as diverse in performance needs as the oil & gas and medical industries playing an important role in both downhole tools and in-body implants and in many more of today’s growing industries. This is possible because PEEK is not only a tough material in a variety of applications, it can also be worked into components of any size or shape, including microscopic sized parts inside cellular phones to much larger structural parts that fly on today’s commercial and military aircraft.

PEEK performance

There is a whole lot to like about PEEK. In some chemically aggressive environments, it even outperforms higher performance polyimide and PAI based materials such as Torlon. Although both Torlon and PEEK offer superb wear and thermal resistance, PEEK is the better choice if chemical inertness is required from the material, especially at both high and low pH extremes and saturated steam. Specifically, PEEK’s inertness in both chemical and high temperature environments will keep its demand strong among industries demanding material performance:

1. PEEK made better by fiber reinforcements augmenting its physical properties further above its initial softening temperature (Tg) of 150C. PEEK 450 CA30 and KT820CF30, for example, are both reinforced with carbon fiber. The addition of carbon fibers gives the PEEK better stiffness and strength, which means better load carrying ability and greater stability in use while under load. The presence of carbon fibers also lower the resin’s CLTE further, which means it will remain stable even when subjected to high heat.

PEEK can also be reinforced with glass fibers, which function similarly to carbon fibers except the polymer remains both an electrical and thermal insulator. PEEK KT 820 GF30 is reinforced with glass fibers, and offers a boost in properties for highly stressed parts. In addition to better stiffness and strength, the addition of glass fibers means the PEEK provides better mechanical stability in high temperatures. KT 820 GF30 is ideal for applications like machining and electrical insulation, due to its improved resiliency and electrical properties.

Finally, PEEK can be improved with the addition of graphite and PTFE to lower the frictional properties verses other materials. Victrex 450 FC30, 450 FE20 and Drake BG are the three versions of PEEK available for demanding wear applications such as bushings, gears and dynamic seals.

2. Chemistry improvements – Polymer scientists were able to increase the strength and softening temperature by altering the chemistry yielding PEK (polyether ketone). This grade is named HT for high temperature. The HT version carries heavier loads than unfilled PEEK and offers better creep resistance and better fatigue resistance as well. This high degree of durability makes HT an ideal choice for downhole parts such as seals, valve seats, and electrical insulators that are parts of connectors.

3. PEEK is a proven polymer – All the data sheets in the world won’t mean a thing if the material is not proven in the field. PEEK has proven itself in oil & gas, aerospace, semiconductor and medical applications to name a few.

In the oil & gas industry, PEEK’s chemical resistance and ability to take on glass or carbon means it can withstand downhole and wellhead environments. In oil & gas operations, it can be found in valve seats, seals, back-up rings and even in frac balls.

In the medical and life science industries, PEEK’s inertness, compressive resiliency, creep resistance and resistance to sterilization make it a top choice for things like analytical equipment rotors and valves, non-lubricated bushings, dental and surgical instrument handles, and spinal spacers.

In the semiconductor industry PEEK offers higher strength and better durability than fluoropolymers but with equal chemical inertness for wet process applications.

In the aerospace industry PEEK seals offer added strength over PTFE, plus its inertness to all jet fuels and non-burning characteristics for parts large and small make PEEK a reliable choice for design engineers.

PEEK KT820NT Unfilled PEEK, Extruded Shapes

Chemical resistance, temperature reliability and compressive strength make it suitable for seals, valves, back-up rings and insulators.

PEEK 450 CA30 Carbon Fiber Reinforced PEEK, Extruded Shapes

High strength and stiffness for applications demanding strength, wear and abrasion resistance and broad based chemical resistance.

PEEK KT820CF30 30% Carbon Fiber reinforced PEEK

Pump wear rings, vanes, gears, medical device fixtures, wafer handling tools

PEEK KT820GF30 30% Glass Fiber reinforced PEEK

Electrical insulators, burn-in/test sockets, valve plates, impellors, back-up seal rings, activation balls

PEEK 450 FC30 10-10-10 Bearing Grade PEEK

Wear rings, bushings/bearings, thrust washers, high pressure seals, scraper blades

PEEK 450FE20 20% Filled PEEK

FDA compliant bearings and bushings, valve seats, pivot bushings

PEEK HT High Temperature PEK

FDA compliant applications above 340℉

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