In what it is calling a world first, chemicals company Evonik (Essen, Germany) has announced the development of an implant-grade PEEK filament for 3D printing. Formulated for fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology, the material is based on Vestakeep i4 G, which has a long history of use in spinal implants, maxillofacial surgery and sports medicine.
Evonik also said that it will offer a less expensive testing-grade version of the PEEK filament to provide potential customers with a cost-effective way of adapting the processing characteristics of the high-performance plastic for printing processes. The testing-grade material has the same processing and mechanical properties as the implant-grade material, but without the documentation needed for approval in medical device applications.
The testing grade will be followed by an implant-grade Vestakeep i4 G in the first quarter of 2019.
The natural-colored filament, which has a diameter of 1.75 mm, is wound on 500-gram spools suitable for direct use in standard FFF 3D printers for PEEK materials.
In related news, German company Apium Additive Technologies has successfully processed PEEK filament based on Vestakeep i4 G on its Apium M220 series printer for medical applications.
The medical grade PEEK filament and M220 Series 3D printers were produced in response to growing customer demand for end-use, patient-specific medical devices, reports 3D Printing Industry. According to the company, the new production technology means a reduction in lead times and the cost of implant manufacturing.
Apium will showcase these developments at the additive manufacturing tradeshow formnext next week in Frankfurt, Germany.