Skip to content
What Is PEEK?

What Is PEEK?

PEEK (polyetheretherketone) is a high-performance thermoplastic widely used in engineering, aerospace, food and beverage, and oil and gas industries. This rigid material is proven to perform well in high-temperature, high-pressure environments. PEEK features many unique properties, is one of the most commonly used polyketone polymers, and is often produced in large quantities.

Piedmont Plastics offers PEEK at a variety of specifications. You can have your orders cut to size and machined into fabricated parts to meet the needs of just about any application.

Properties and Benefits of PEEK

PEEK is probably the closest thing to a perfect material for various industries and applications. It boasts considerable durability in punishing environments, and its glass and carbon-reinforced grades are among the strongest of all thermoplastics at room temperature. In addition, PEEK’s unfilled grades are highly resistant to most chemically aggressive environments, including high-pressure steam.

Parts made using PEEK are lightweight, strong, and more than many other similar materials - are fully recyclable.

To break down PEEK’s many valuable properties, it features:

  • Wide processability – PEEK’s ease of processing makes it perfect for high-volume commercial applications. PEEK components can be injection molded with high volume tooling into extruded and injection molded stock shapes and stamped and machined from strip stock or film. PEEK’s high molecular weight and melt stability allow it to be extruded into large cross-sections such as rods greater than 200mm, plate up to 4”, and tubes with 2” thick walls. PEEK is one of the few high-performance thermoplastics that can handle the extensive machining needed to produce complex components.
  • High wear resistance – PEEK is known for well-rounded wear resistance, including abrasion, friction, and fatigue. In addition, PEEK alloyed with PTFE graphite and carbon fiber provides even lower wear rates in high pressure-velocity conditions.
  • Superior thermal properties – PEEK offers high strength and resistance to high temperatures and won’t melt until it reaches about 650°F. As a result, it can be used at temperatures going up to around 480°F for long-term use and significantly higher for short-term use—well beyond what most plastics are capable of.
  • Extreme chemical resistance – PEEK features broad chemical resistance that approaches that of Teflon® or other PTFE but with far greater strength. This makes it a popular choice for chemical processing and oil and gas companies. PEEK can withstand prolonged exposure to acid, acetone, alcohol, ammonia, benzene, chlorine, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, gasoline, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, MEK, methylene chloride, ozone, pentane, sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, and Toluene.

Common Applications For PEEK

PEEK has become the material for use in harsh environments thanks to its distinctive and valuable characteristics. Some popular applications include:

  • Bearings and Bushings
  • Cable and wire sheathing
  • Fiber optics
  • Semiconductor machinery components
  • Commercial and military aircraft
  • Critical fluid tubing
  • Spinal and dental implants
  • Medical instruments and imaging equipment
  • Seals and valves
  • Insulation
  • Food storage and packaging
  • Food processing appliances and components

This is only a portion of PEEK’s possible applications. Along with its excellent heat tolerance, PEEK features one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any thermoplastic on the market. It makes a great alternative to less-performing materials such as glass. PEEK is robust and boasts the kind of high purity and lubricity perfect for the most challenging applications.

PEEK As a Food-Grade Material

PEEK is safe when in contact with delicate foods like raw lettuce or fresh dairy products even during production and complies with FDA regulation 21 CFR 177.2415 for repeated food contact. For this reason, food handling components constructed using PEEK materials are popular for both food packaging and food production processes.

How Does PEEK Compare To Other Materials?

Compared to metals such as aluminum and steel, PEEK has greater tensile strength and can withstand prolonged exposure to high temperatures, harsh chemicals, and moisture. PEEK is also considerably lighter than steel or aluminum but does not sacrifice strength in any way.

PEEK is often compared to Teflon® because both are thermoplastics, but PEEK can withstand higher temperatures and stress than Teflon®. This is particularly true when used for valves and seals. In pretty much any situation in which one might use Teflon®, PEEK can substitute with the same or more reliable results.

When put up against other plastics, PEEK’s excellent water resistance is on par with or better than other plastics. In addition, its strength and rigidity make it an ideal choice for intense, long-term use.

Ordering PEEK from Piedmont Plastics

The materials experts at Piedmont Plastic are ready to answer any questions you have about PEEK, its many uses, and impressive characteristics. Contact us for information on the different varieties of PEEK we have available and on how to order cut-to-size pieces or to discuss having PEEK molded to your projects’ component needs.