Indmatec, a German company pioneering the processing of high performance polymeric materials such as PEEK (polytheretherketone), is in the process of undergoing biological qualification to add medical grade PEEK to its product line.
PEEK is already being used in the medical sector for 3D printing implants, guides, support structures and a range of devices used in complimenting invasive practices in medicine.
In the medical sector, PEEK offers unique mechanical properties, which make it similar to the characteristics of human bone than traditionally used metals. It is biocompatible, transparent under X-ray exposure and can be easily sterilized using different kinds of sterilizing tools without affecting its physical properties.
Building on the technical success from their PEEK filament and fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer Indmatec has successfully print-tested their medical grade PEEK (Class IIa) material. The material is currently undergoing a biological qualification test which if positive will offer Indmatec the confidence to market their medical grade PEEK. The company plans on launching the material within the first quarter of 2016. Their HPP 155 PEEK 3D printer first presented at the first Formnext edition in November 2015 is designed to allow for prototyping and the development of models in medical practice.
"With the medical sector being a difficult market to approach, when we began testing PEEK our focus was directed towards the engineering sector,” Prof. Dr. Brando Okolo, CEO of Indmatec GmbH, explained to TCT. “Then came surgeons, dentists, OEM's from the medical sector asking for if and when our technology would be ready for their industry. Lesson learnt: experts responsible for driving development should meet demands for a product, an idea, a technology or a service."
Indmatec technology and PEEK material are highly affordable compared to market conditions and exceed the quality expectations of end-users. Last year, the German company became the world’s first AM company to make PEEK filaments printable with the development of its FFF-printer, of which the second generation was launched in December, eliminating the amount of waste PEEK material found in alternative processes.