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40 Years of PEEK Success

1978 marked the invention of PEEK (polyetheretherketone), a new high-performance polymer (HPP). Forty years ago, on November 19, the first batch of this high-performance polymer was manufactured at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), a major chemical company. One of the early pioneers was Wolfgang Reimer, Global Strategic Accounts Manager of Victrex. Right from the beginning in 1980 Reimer was convinced that the material would quickly come of age and have a big impact across multiple industries and future generations.

Victrex celebrates 40 years of PEEK success, with much more to come (© Victrex)

??PEEK promised great potential. However, as a very small speciality business we had to build trust and prove that we and PEEK could deliver according to customer expectations. In addition, we knew that although the idea for an innovation may be developed in little or no time, the success of a business can´t. First sealing applications for example were developed quite some time ago. Today PEEK based sealings are used for example in many automotive and energy applications and in industrial machines.?

Only three years later the commercialisation of the first PEEK polymers, the ??Victrex PEEK? family including glass- and carbon-filled products, followed. Today, this versatile material is used to solve complex engineering challenges, often replacing metals. The company has developed new markets and applications for PEEK with product forms such as film, pipe, fibres and components such as gears as part of its solutions offering.

??PEEK is an invention that inspires others to invent," observes Jakob Sigurdsson, Victrex CEO. ??Delivering solutions is what motivates the continuous development of our Victrex PEEK-based offerings, whether they be new polymer grades or product forms and components in selected areas. We operate three state-of-the art polymer manufacturing facilities with a total nameplate production capacity of 7150 tonnes. We also have facilities that enable us to make film, pipe, composite tape and other product forms and components."

Further Development Never Stops

??Being just a material supplier of such a highly specialised thermoplastic is not enough," adds Sigurdsson. "We have a complete solutions offering, where we partner with customers, research centres and universities to realise the further potential of the polymer and help to build markets to develop the applications of the future.?

The Victrex AE 250 composites and the TxV joint venture for aerospace, the new extended food grade portfolio Victrex FG, medical trauma plates and dental prosthetics in the medical field, with new PAEK products for Additive Manufacturing in development, mark the milestones to come in the Victrex PAEK/PEEK journey of the next 40 years.

Relatively Young High-Performance Polymer

The inert properties of the versatile PAEK polymers are one main reason for their success. This family of polymers is ideally suited to extreme and demanding environments. Their properties include light weight, high strength, and high resistance to wear, high temperatures, fatigue and aggressive chemicals. Together, these properties contribute to enhanced fuel efficiency, extended part life, greater comfort (smooth operation, less noise), more design freedom and greater cost efficiency.

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n [609203].

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