Victrex and University of Exeter partner on PAEK for additive manufacturing

3D printing collaboration to focus on R&D in the pursuit of the potential of high-performance polymers in additive manufacturing.

The University of Exeter (UK) and Victrex (Thornton Cleveleys, UK), a world leader in high-performance polyaryletherketone (PAEK) polymer solutions, announced Sept. 10 they have commenced work in a strategic partnership to develop a broader platform for new and existing additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. The goal is to introduce next-generation PAEK polymers and composites while improving the performance of the underlying AM processes.

The collaboration is driven by Victrex R&D and the University’s Center for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM). The new alliance will focus on multiple AM technologies.

“We are excited to start this partnership and continue our R&D work on development of high performance materials and AM processes for today’s and future needs and applications,” says Professor Oana Ghita, the lead of CALM at the University of Exeter. “The new PAEK polymer based materials will give designers and developers the opportunity to use the best performing polymers within AM processes and help make this dream a reality, transforming AM into a high-performance production tool.” 

Victrex and CALM started to work together in a consortium headed by Victrex and funded by Innovate UK (Swindon, UK), focusing on the development of Victrex PAEK polymers for various 3D printing processes. After having achieved major improvements, Victrex recently announced newly developed advanced PAEK products designed for AM: A high strength material for laser sintering, a filament with better Z-strength than existing PAEK materials and better printability for filament fusion.

"Victrex is keen to help overcome barriers to adoption and realize the full potential of PAEK/PEEK-based parts produced using AM technology," says Ian Smith, marketing director at Victrex. "In order to open up the AM supply chain, we need to continue to work together to develop an eco-system that can address unmet industry needs and accelerate the adoption of PAEK/PEEK for AM technologies."

The company expects two industries to benefit in particular during the initial adoption phase. In the aerospace sector, the use of PAEK/PEEK in AM has the potential to enable new designs and the consolidation of parts within a single design. At the same time, it will allow the production of parts that would be difficult to machine. In medical, AM in conjunction with PAEK will allow the manufacture of medical devices to make patient specific implants. The prospect of broad-based industry-wide adoption awaits as the eco-system develops and improved solutions become available.