The PEEK and ULTEM FDM 3D printers available on the market
3D printing materials have continued to develop in recent years, meeting the demand of professionals looking for solutions that can meet industrial, mechanical and chemical constraints. The additive manufacturing market has therefore begun to welcome more high-performance materials, that offer high mechanical performance and, above all, resistance to high temperatures. Mainly marketed in filament form, today PAEK (polyaryletherketones) is available – a family that includes PEEK, PEKK, and PEI (which you probably know under the trade name ULTEM), developed by General Electric in the 1980s.
Today, we will be looking at PEEK and ULTEM FDM/FFF machines – you should know that powder-based solutions are available on the market. These two high performance thermoplastics require more complex printing parameters, particularly an extrusion temperature of more than 350°C, a heated chamber and a build plate capable of reaching at least 100°C. These technical constraints explain the relatively low number of 3D printers compatible with these materials on the market. To help you in your search, 3Dnatives has brought together the some of the best ULTEM and PEEK 3D printers, based on FDM technology, and listed in alphabetical order.
Earlier this year, the Canadian manufacturer unveiled its new high-temperature machine, the AON-M2 2020, which is compatible with some 100 plastic materials including PEEK and ULTEM. Offering a generous printing volume of 454 x 454 x 640 mm, its extrusion temperature reaches 470°C, its printing chamber 135°C and its build plate 200°C. The machine therefore offers optimum temperature management for printing high-performance materials and other engineering thermoplastics. It is equipped with two extruders capable of speeds up to 500 mm per second. Finally, the AON-M2 2020 is an open industrial machine compatible with many filaments of different brands such as Solvay, Kimya, SABIC or DSM.
Apium is a German manufacturer specialising in the development of PEEK 3D printers, one of which has been developed specifically for the medical sector. The one we are interested in here is the P220, an industrial 3D printer capable of creating parts measuring 205 x 155 x 150 mm. Its extruder can heat up to 540°C and its build plate can reach 160°C. Above all, it is equipped with an adaptive heating system: the manufacturer has installed a device that rises to 180°C, just above the printing area, and forms a film of hot air. This allows the printer to improve layer adhesion and surface quality. Energy consumption is thus optimised as well as machine preparation. The Apium P220 is also compatible with carbon fibre reinforced PEEK and ULTEM.
The American giant Stratasys has developed the Fortus 450mc to enable manufacturers to print high-performance materials of large size. Its print volume is indeed quite generous at 406 x 355 x 406 mm. It is an ideal machine for all specialized sectors such as automotive, medicine or aeronautics that are looking to create solid components, resistant prototypes and production tools of all kinds.
FUNMAT Pro 610HT
Intamsys, based in Shanghai, specializes in high performance materials 3D printing solutions. The company manufactures the FUNMAT HT and FUNMAT PRO HT series. The FUNMAT Pro 610HT is one of their latest releases, it is capable of handling high performance materials such as PEEK, PEKK, ULTEM, and also comes with a dual nozzle that can reach 500°C and a heated chamber of 300°C. Compared to other models, this is a larger solution, boasting a build volume of 610 x 508 x 508mm. Parts made with this machine are perfect for automotive, aerospace, Oil & Gas, and more. The manufacturer also explains that the build chamber has been optimized to avoid warpage by achieving a constant temperature throughout the building process, resulting in parts with higher mechanical strength.
HSE 180-S HT
Essentium provides industrial 3D printing solutions from 3D printers to materials. Their HSE 180-S 3D HT machine is a high-speed solution for the manufacture of high-pressure mold tooling, high temperature jigs and fixtures, connectors and functional parts applications. Based on the manufacturer’s High Speed Extrusion technology, it can handle high performance polymers to make these parts. The build volume on this machine is 690 x 500 x 600 mm, the nozzle can reach a temperature of 550°C, and the bed 200°C. The HSE 180-S HT comes with an enclosed chamber with several infrared tubes that can immediately heat the chamber up to 180ºC, and according to Essentium can create parts up to 15 times faster than competition. Industries for which this solution makes sense are aerospace and defense, semiconductor device manufacturing and Oil & Gas.
The INDUSTRY F420 is an industrial machine launched in November 2019 by 3DGence. This professional solution can process a wide range of materials from ABS to PEEK, PEKK or ULTEM. It has an actively heated chamber that reaches 180°C and an extruder that can rise to 500°C. With modular print heads, maximum manufacturing capacity of 380 x 380 x 420 mm and its high printing speed up to 400 mm/s, it’s a perfect choice for rapid production. Unlike other manufacturer’s solutions, the F420 includes several features that enhance the user experience while facilitating the printing process. These include a heated filament compartment with automatic material recognition, an industrial-grade air filter and signal mast. All of these can be managed online through 3DGence Cloud.
Introduced earlier this year, the MAGIC-HT-MAX follows the line of solutions offered by the Asian manufacturer IEMAI 3D. Capable of manufacturing high performance parts, the machine uses FDM technology to manufacture with more than 16 different materials (PEEK, PEKK, ULTEM,…). It has a printing volume of 500 x 500 x 700mm and a heated tray that reaches 180°C. In addition, it integrates a liquid cooling system, an end of filament sensor and the ability to recover and resume printing in case of power failure. Despite being an industrial machine, the manufacturer specializes in providing affordable solutions for players in the additive manufacturing industry.
The Finnish manufacturer miniFactory is especially known for its high temperature 3D printers. The miniFactory Ultra has a build volume of 330 x 180 x 180 mm. Its extruder can reach a temperature of up to 470°C to work with materials such as ULTEM, PEEK, PAEK, PPS and PA. The latest model has two of these extruders. What is special with regard to temperature is that the miniFactory Ultra has a particularly good insulation of the installation space, which is why it can use lower temperatures than other printers to process high-performance materials. In addition, the printer is equipped with a large touch screen, which makes control particularly easy.
Roboze ONE +400 Xtreme
The Italian manufacturer Roboze has launched a successor to the Roboze ONE +400 with a construction volume of 300 x 250 x 220 mm on the market. This FFF 3D printer is particularly convincing because it is able to print materials such as PEEK, PEI, PP and Carbon PA with a temperature resistance of 450°C. In addition, the patented system guarantees a faster and more precise print resolution according to the manufacturer. The Roboze One+400 Xtreme is said to be able to print more precisely and 20% faster than the previous model: it is able to reach up to 4000 mm per minute printing speed.
The Italian manufacturer 3ntr has developed a machine compatible with PEEK, ULTEM but also PPS. It is equipped with a powerful electronic system to control the temperature in an optimal way and thus allow the creation of complex parts with high mechanical properties. It has a volume of 300 x 300 x 300 mm, four extruders with a temperature range up to 500°C, a chamber up to 250°C, and comes with a heated compartment for storing high-performance thermoplastics. The build plate can be heated up to 300°C.
The Dutch company Tractus 3D has specialised in the development of Delta printers. The company’s self-proclaimed goal is to develop the most affordable printers possible for industrial applications. With its second 3D printer in the DESK series, the company has succeeded in developing a printer that is based on FDM and, with its dimensions of 550 x 476 x 1140 mm, also fits into an office. It can process materials such as PLA, PEEK and ULTEM. The extruder of the T850 can be heated up to 300°C, making it capable of melting materials such as PEEK. According to the manufacturer, the extruder needs less than 90 seconds to reach this temperature. In terms of printing speed, the T850 P is capable of printing up to 450 mm per second at a resolution of 10 microns.
Last year, Polish manufacturer Zortrax presented its new machine called Zortrax Endureal. With a print volume of 400 x 300 x 300 mm and a maximum precision of 100 µm on the Z-axis, it is equipped with a dual extruder and an aluminium build plate to improve the adhesion of high-performance thermoplastics. Among its features is an advanced thermal management system that makes it easier to control the temperature of the chamber as well as the extrusion temperature. There are also 17 sensors so that the user can monitor the print job in real time and be alerted in the event of a machine failure. Zortrax offers its own range of materials including Z-PEEK, which is wear and abrasion resistant; Z-PEI 9085 for aerospace, Z-ESD, and Z-ULTRAT Plus. According to the manufacturer, the Zortrax Endureal is an ideal industrial machine for designing aerospace and medical applications.
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