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5 Tips for Optimizing PEEK Performance in Your Engineering Projects

May. 13, 2023

5 Tips for Optimizing PEEK Performance in Your Engineering Projects

Polyetheretherketone, or PEEK, is a high-performance engineering plastic that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its exceptional mechanical and thermal properties. While PEEK offers numerous advantages, it also presents unique challenges when it comes to processing and handling. In this article, we will share five helpful tips for working with PEEK as an engineering plastic.

1, Keep PEEK Clean and Dry
PEEK is a highly hygroscopic material, which means that it readily absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment. Moisture can have a significant impact on the properties of PEEK, leading to reduced mechanical strength, increased brittleness, and other issues. To prevent these problems, it’s essential to keep PEEK clean and dry at all times. Store PEEK in a cool, dry location, and use gloves and other protective equipment to prevent contamination from skin oils and other substances.

2, Use the Right Tools and Equipment
PEEK is a tough, durable material that can be challenging to machine and fabricate using conventional tools and equipment. When working with PEEK, it’s essential to use the right tools and equipment to achieve the best results. Use sharp, high-speed cutting tools, and use plenty of coolant to prevent overheating. Avoid excessive feed rates and depth of cut, which can cause the material to deform or crack. Additionally, consider using dedicated equipment and tooling designed specifically for working with PEEK.

3, Mind the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion
PEEK has a relatively high coefficient of thermal expansion, which means that it expands and contracts more than many other materials in response to changes in temperature. This can cause problems in certain applications, such as when PEEK is used in conjunction with other materials that have different coefficients of thermal expansion. When designing parts and assemblies that incorporate PEEK, be sure to account for its coefficient of thermal expansion and take steps to mitigate its effects.

4, Choose the Right Processing Method
PEEK can be processed using a variety of techniques, including injection molding, extrusion, and machining. The choice of processing method will depend on the specific application and the desired properties of the finished product. Injection molding is often preferred for high-volume production of complex parts, while machining is best suited for low-volume production or prototyping. Extrusion can be used to produce PEEK tubing and other simple shapes.

5, Consider Post-Processing and Annealing
To achieve the best possible mechanical properties and dimensional stability, it’s often necessary to subject PEEK to post-processing or annealing after fabrication. Annealing PEEK involves heating the material to a high temperature and allowing it to cool slowly, which helps to relieve stresses and improve dimensional stability. Post-processing techniques such as polishing, sanding, and coating can also be used to improve the surface finish and other properties of PEEK.

By following these tips, engineers can get the most out of PEEK as an engineering plastic, achieving the best possible results in their applications.