Carbon-Fiber-Reinforced PEEK Developed for 3D-Printed Medical Implants

The high carbon-fiber content delivers strength while PEEK brings ductility to the 3D-printed medical implants.

Posted by Staff

October 10, 2023

2 Min Read
3D-printed medical implantables
Image courtesy of Evonik

A new carbon-fiber-reinforced PEEK filament for use in 3D-printed medical implants has been developed by German chemicals company Evonik. The biomaterial can be processed using common extrusion-based 3D-printing technologies such as fused filament fabrication (FFF). 

The two VESTAKEEP iC4612 3DF and VESTAKEEP iC4620 3DF filaments feature 12% and 20% carbon-fiber content, respectively. The two grades offer a choice of material depending on the required strength and flex properties of 3D-printed implants, such as bone plates and other reconstructive prosthetic devices.

The high carbon-fiber content delivers strength while PEEK brings ductility to the 3D-printed part. Additional product benefits described by Evonik include the ability to define carbon-fiber alignment during the 3D-printing process, the material’s biocompatibility for patients allergic to metals, and the absence of x-ray artifacts.

The carbon-fiber-reinforced PEEK filament measures 1.75 mm in diameter and comes in 500- and 1,000-gram spools.

“By introducing the world’s first carbon-fiber-reinforced PEEK filament for long-term medical implants, we continue to design biomaterials that open up new possibilities in today’s medical technology for patient-specific treatment,” said Marc Knebel, who leads the medical systems business at Evonik. “As passionate experts with decades of experience in polymer chemistry, we combine a unique set of competencies in materials science, manufacturing technologies, and regulatory expertise to customers to accelerate time to market of new medical technologies.”

The 1.75-mm-diameter filaments are supplied on 500- and 1,000-gram spools that can be used directly in standard FFF/FDM 3D printers for PEEK materials. The material is subjected to strict quality management for medical applications. 3D printing enables the production of patient-specific devices in a matter of two to three days, significantly accelerating and improving patient recovery compared with devices made using conventional techniques.

Evonik noted that it has been gradually developing new PEEK-based filaments for medical 3D-printing applications over the past five years. The current portfolio includes different grades for long- and short-term body contact applications.

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