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High performance polymers are becoming available for specific applications.

One of such materials is PEEK (PolyEther Ether Ketone), a thermoplastic polymer in the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) family. PEEK competes with certain Aluminium alloys but is half the weight of Aluminium. For aerospace application this sounds very promising!

NASA has shown that printing these types of polymers is feasible using low-cost, open source hardware.

Does anybody know why the prices of PEEK are so high?

Depending on the supplier/manufacturer you're looking at about 700 - 900 Euro per kg.

Natural colored PEEK filament samples

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My assumptions about PEEK filament price are:

  • Raw material is more expensive. Compare price of ABS with PEEK pellets.
  • Demand is much lower. There are not many printers able to print peek. If you manufacture PEEK filament you have to store a filament batch for longer time. Manufacturer has to calculate into price storage space, material degradation, ...
  • Filament machine tuning. You have to tune filament extrude machine for PEEK, which takes time because it's a totally different plastic. Maybe there is a cleanup needed after finishing a batch and switching to another material.
  • Working conditions. PEEK is quite smelly and I am not sure if you have to improve work conditions like better ventilation.
  • Research costs. You have to distribute research costs to a filament production where demand is low.
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    $\begingroup$ This is a very good answer. In my experience, the third point is the most important. Good filament quality (uniform chemistry and diameter) requires expensive equipment, and most filament companies don't have the ability to run at the temperatures required for PEEK. $\endgroup$ – Davo Jul 31 '18 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Davo Yes the demand-supply is a no-brainer. For me the third was something I did not think about. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Jul 31 '18 at 14:09
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Patents still seem to play a role as well.

I was curious about this question and did a bit of research: If you filter the U.S. patents after 2010 mentioning PEEK and its various applications and improvements, you still get roughly 10,000 patents. Those are not all primarily patents for PEEK, but still.

Even Victrex PLC, formerly named Imperial Chemical Industries, who filed the first patent for PEEK back in 1978, had a patent published in 2016 for a new PEEK production procedure:

The process can be used to produce high quality, relatively light coloured polymers having a lower Tm than those produced using a standard PEEK process.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I did not think of that, good addition! This question was inspired by an answer on your question. This filament seems very interesting, I got curious too. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Jul 31 '18 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'll vote this up when I have new votes, I've run out at the moment. Please @typo do vote, if I'm not mistaken you can now also vote on questions and answer (if you are over 15 reputation); please do! $\endgroup$ – 0scar Jul 31 '18 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @0scar Very interesting material, indeed. But, as you said: Very expensive as well. PA66 and PA46 seem to be good alternatives. Also, 3M has found a way to 3D print PTFE. $\endgroup$ – typo Aug 2 '18 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing that, wow PTFE, and I thought that printing POM was difficult: POM filament not sticking to the build plate? $\endgroup$ – 0scar Aug 2 '18 at 19:43

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