3-D Printing with PAEK
Victrex.Thornton Cleveleys, UK, is leading a consortium of companies and institutions pursuing innovation in 3-D printing (additive manufacturing or AM). As part of its key role, Victrex will develop new grades of high-performance polyaryletherketone (PAEK) polymer based on innovative chemical formulations that are specifically designed to work in additive manufacturing processes.
Although utilized in some AM applications today, current PAEK materials were originally developed for use in injection moulding or extrusion manufacturing process. The new grades are targeted in particular at the aerospace industry, which is the consortium’s main focus, but will also consider applications in other areas, notably medical. Possessing IP (intellectual property) covering the new polymers being developed, Victrex was awarded funding from the UK's agency for innovation, Innovate UK, to help drive the project forward. Members of the consortium are other industry leaders such as Airbus Group Innovations, EOS, University of Exeter, E3D-Online, HiEta technologies, South West Metal Finishing, and Avon Valley Precision Engineering.
A key objective is the improvement of the recycle rate for powders used in the additive manufacturing technique, ‘laser sintering’ (LS). This would significantly reduce polymer wastage in this type of additive manufacturing process and reduce costs. The project will also address unpredictability of inter-layer adhesion and parts surface finish in filament-based printing.
The project now being undertaken by the consortium was originally conceived during a conference on polymer-based additive manufacturing at the University of Exeter in 2014, where Victrex presented some early-stage results on a new polymer with significant potential for additive manufacturing. The University of Exeter had already acquired experience and contacts in PEEK polymer-based additive manufacturing and was able to help bring the consortium into existence.
By 2018, the project hopes to have technology demonstrators that represent proof points and a way forward to realising all the advantages of additive manufacturing – including reduced costs and a faster time-to-market for products that include parts too complex to be manufactured using traditional methods. "Although this consortium is a multi-year programme, companies who see a value for the benefits of PEEK polymer combined with the value propositions for additive manufacturing should contact us now to discuss their ideas", emphasized David Hummel, Chief Executive of Victrex.
Victrex Europa GmbH
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