Victrex - PEEK


Esther Nestle
8 minutes

PEEK is a high-performance plastic and is at the top of the polymer pyramid. It is a high-performer in a class of its own, making it predestined for the demanding applications in aircraft construction. Reason enough to take a closer look at the PEEK makers par excellence: the British polymer manufacturer VICTREX.

Interview with VICTREX

Your company is closely linked to the high-performance plastic PEEK. What properties make PEEK so attractive for the aerospace industry?

PEEK (polyetheretherketone) is a member of the PAEK (polyaryletherketone) family of high-performance polymers; it is located at the tip of the polymer pyramid. Its properties include low weight, high strength and high wear resistance, high temperature resistance, material fatigue resistance and resistance to aggressive chemicals. Used in aerospace applications, these outstanding properties contribute to improved fuel efficiency, longer component life, more design freedom, cost efficiency and environmental benefits.

PEEK Victrex

In summary, the advantages of the PAEK family, with PEEK at the top, are particularly evident when an application requires a combination of three or more performance characteristics.

PEEK is a thermoplastic, but it only melts at a very high temperature. How can we envisage the production and further processing of this thermoplastic material?

Like this: similar to other polymers that are classified as high-performance polymers and are known for their resistance to high temperatures, VICTREX PEEK has a high melting temperature (343°C). However, PEEK can be processed using conventional thermoplastic processing equipment for injection moulding, compression moulding, and extrusion (impact extrusion). It is highly versatile and is used in many applications: to improve component performance and extend its lifetime while reducing weight and overall cost.

Your website states that more than 20,000 aircraft fly today with components made from VICTREX PEEK. What parts of the aircraft contain VICTREX components and with what added value?

The fields of application are broadly diversified. Here are three examples of applications:

  1. VICTREX PEEK is used to secure clips, clamps and brackets – with significant potential for weight reduction because these parts are used in large quantities.
  2. In the form of extremely high-performance tubing or APTIV film, PEEK is used as component in thermal and acoustic insulation systems.
  3. When used in conjunction with VICTREX AE™ 250 thermoplastic composites, it is suitable for structural applications that require extra strength, such as load-bearing brackets.

The high-performance polymer PEEK has been on the market for 40 years and is still highly relevant today. 40 years is a long time. For which industries are PEEK applications of particular interest today?

How true! Even forty years after the invention of PEEK, the high-performance polymer is still being used in key industries such as aerospace, the automotive sector, electronics, energy, manufacturing and engineering, and medicine.

VICTREX PEEK and PAEK-based products are widely used to replace metals in demanding applications. Recent inventions, to which we have made significant contributions, include dental prostheses, vertebral cages (fracture implant), mobile phones, transmissions for automotive powertrain applications, and composite thermoplastic solutions for aerospace applications. Our development laboratories are currently working on medical trauma plates, knee-joint prostheses and new PAEK products such as additive manufacturing (AM)/3D printing. We expect these latest projects from our R&D laboratories to mark the new milestones in the Victrex PAEK/PEEK journey over the next 40 years.

Peek Victrex

VICTREX is recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of high- performance polyaryletherketone solutions. How was the company founded? What was the application that gave birth to PEEK?

The first batch of PEEK (produced by ICI, a large chemical company), for which a patent application was filed on 19 November 1978, marked the birth of PEEK. Three years later, the first PEEK polymers from the “VICTREX PEEK” family were brought to market.

Even today there still seems to be no limits. New, brilliant inventions based on PEEK are constantly coming onto the market. Solutions for complex, metal-free technical challenges, for an ever better cost-benefit ratio, for a better environmental footprint … the sky still seems to be the limit as far as PEEK innovations are concerned.

What makes VICTREX stand out from the competition?

There are many reasons to work with VICTREX. The three or four key differentiators? Well, the first is that we are the number one PEEK expert with unsurpassed knowledge, experience and a strong network of solution providers.

Second, we are committed to breaking the status quo. Always looking for new ways to solve complex design challenges that also provide answers to the megatrends of tomorrow. Whether it’s to make it lighter, last longer or cost less, we help our customers use PEEK as a viable alternative to metal. In demanding environments, we deliver options that go beyond current material restrictions.

Third, we work with customers along the entire value chain. By working together, we push back the boundaries of design and technology. In this way we develop solutions that give our customers a real competitive advantage. VICTREX supports its customers in all phases of innovation from design through to marketing.

The bottom line is that our manufacturing process and backward integration are the two most important factors that have made VICTREX PEEK successful over the last 40 years.

by Esther Nestle

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