High-temperature material 3D printing
Industrial high-temperature filaments are the new hype in the 3d printing market, with more companies offering PEEK PEKK and ULTEM, and others, with better pricing.
But in fact, to find a PEEK capable 3d printer for a reasonable price is extremely rare. Prices start according to aniwaa.com by 30K and go all the way up to 200K.
But this is changing recently with some companies offering PEEK printers prices as low as 2,000 dollars and even more advanced machines for under 13K, which is a significant drop even from the lowest prices listed on aniwaa 30K.
This is great news for 3D printing enthusiasts because it opens up new grounds for 3d printed parts.
Take a car's engine, for example; a regular thermoplastic part would bend or melt within moments because it cannot withstand heat. However, with a PEKK printed piece, you can use it in numerous places exposed to extreme elements.
High-temperature plastics can also help the aerospace industry, where lightweight is a significant advantage, and plastics are generally lighter than their metal counterparts.
Affordable high-temperature printers
CreatBot technology is a Chinese brand whose primary focus is to make PEEK available for you and me, and they offer some of the most exotic peek printers for stupidly low prices.
Their flagship peek printer is the F430, a stable machine with a build volume of 300*300*400mm and dual extrusion. It costs less than 5 thousand dollars and is well worth it.
Even more interesting is their PEEK-300 advanced printer, and it has some of the most advanced technologies available for high-temperature 3D printing.
The most remarkable feature is DAS (it stands for direct annealing system) which is a system that is heating the printed model up to 400°C and then slowly takes the temperature down; DAS makes the part much firmer and smoother.
It also features an advanced dual cooling system with a air cooling system and a liquid cooling system. It has a price tag of about 14K, but it is well worth the money.
Another noteworthy high-temperature printer is Intamsys FunMat HT which is quite affordable with a price tag of 7500 bucks. It features an extruder with 450°C and a heated chamber of 90°C, a build volume of 260 x 260 x 260 mm, and a 50-micron high-resolution.
More about high-temperature materials
Today there are numerous types of high-temperature materials with tons of composites and mixtures. Let's explore some of the materials that are popular in this industry.
Before reviewing specific materials, let us take a step back and see what we are looking for and what factor to consider when choosing high-temperature filament.
The ultimate goal for high-temperature materials is to be heat resistant and to withstand extreme weather elements. Therefore we have to look at the HDT, which stands for heat deflection temperature, basically at what temperature the plastic part will start deforming under a specific load.
Another vital factor to check is the glass transition temperature which measures in which stage the part becomes rubbery and is deforming on touch.
PEEK, PEKK, PEI (Ultem)
Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is a colorless thermoplastic polymer in the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) family, with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties that are retained to high temperatures.
PEEK has a heat deflection of 260°C and a glass transition of about 146°C. For a printer to be able to print peek, you need an extrusion heat of more than 400°C
Other members in the PAEK family are PEKK which deflect under 275°C, and PEI, known as Ultem, with a deflection of 216°C.
PEKK vs. PEEK: PEKK is pretty similar to PEEK in more than just its name, as they share many common characteristics. However, PEKK can withstand far greater compressive force, and it also tends to have a slightly higher heat resistance level than PEEK.
Polycarbonates (PC) are a group of polymers integrating carbonate in their chemical structures. PC is a durable material. Although it has high impact resistance, it has low scratch resistance. Therefore, applying a hard coating to some PC products is common, such as eyewear lenses and exterior automotive components. It is stronger than similar polymers and will hold up longer to extreme temperatures.
- Glass-filled Nylon (PA GF) – Opposed to pure nylon, PA-GF offers higher stiffness and greater heat resistance but is less flexible. The composite is stable, machinable, and functions well with complicated prints.
- Aluminum-filled Nylon (PA AF) – Featuring a mixture of PA with aluminum, resulting in a sturdy polymer with a metallic look and feel and firm structure. PA-AF is simple to machine and post-process, more heat resistant, and inflexible.
- Carbon Fiber-filled Nylon (PA CF) – Its primary benefit is that it is electrostatically dissipative. PA-CF features include resistance to temperature and wear, sturdy, lightweight, and has anthracite shade.
PEEK printing is the future, but it still has a way to go. Prices have to come down further on printers and PEEK filament, which runs between 400 to 600 bucks for a kg. But if you do the proper research before buying, you can certainly get a glimpse of the future with some superstar peek-printers for decent pricing, such as the CreatBot PEEK collection and else.