PEEK and ULTEM (PEI): high-performance materials

PEEK and ULTEM® (PEI) are derived from PAEK (polyaryletherketone), a semicrystalline thermoplastic. These high-performance materials:

  • boast high mechanical strength,
  • are resistant to extreme temperatures and to most chemicals,
  • all while being lightweight.

To 3D print PEEK and ULTEM® filament, you need a high-temperature 3D printer with an enclosed, heated environment and a high-temperature extruder.

What are the best PEEK/PEI 3D printers?

Whereas the PEEK 3D printer market used to be a niche with very few players, today many manufacturers claim that their printers are suitable for PEEK and PEI 3D printing.

Boasting high-temperature extruders and heated chambers is often not enough, however. PEEK and PEI are tough thermoplastics to print, and many elements come into play in order for prints to be a success.

Our goal here is to select PEEK/PEI printers that stand out from the rest, and not only in terms of hardware. We’re also taking into account a range of factors such as manufacturer maturity, feedback from our network, availability, and distribution.

Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re the only ones out there, but in our eyes, they are top-tier PEEK 3D printers. Promising emerging brands, cost-effective printers, and case-specific machines are mentioned in separate sections so as to provide a comprehensive overview nonetheless.

We work with a large number of distributors and brands worldwide– contact us for a personalized recommendation based on your project and location.

High-temperature 3D printers 2021: our selection

BrandProductBuild sizeExtruder temp.Build plate temp.Build chamber temp.CountryPrice
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
3DGence INDUSTRY F420380 × 380 × 420 mm500°C180°C180°CPoland$ 50,000Ask for a quote
3ntr Spectral 30300 × 300 × 300 mm500°C300°C250°CItaly$ 110,000Ask for a quote
Apium P220220 × 175 × 160 mm540°C160°C180°CGermany$ 29,000Ask for a quote
miniFactory Ultra330 × 180 × 180 mm480°C250°C250°CFinland$ 54,000Ask for a quote
Roboze ARGO 350350 × 300 × 300 mm450°C180°C180°CItaly$ 195,000Ask for a quote
Stratasys Fortus 450mc406 × 355 × 406 mm450°C350°C350°CUnited States$ 149,000Ask for a quote

Note: There are over 60 printers that are supposedly capable of 3D printing PEEK material. We focused on 3D printers that are widely distributed and available.

Key characteristics and properties of PEEK

Pros of PEEK filament

PEEK is dimensionally stable. It can tolerate significant changes in temperature, moisture, and other conditions.

  • Useful operating temperature of up to 250°C-260°C
  • Low flammability and low levels of toxic emissions during combustion
  • High mechanical strength (see Engineering.com’s article for more technical details)
  • Low moisture absorption; water and steam resistant
  • Chemical resistance (with exceptions)
  • Biocompatible
  • Lightweight

PEEK drawbacks

This material also has a few limits.

  • Complex to 3D print
  • PEEK prices are relatively high
  • Mostly only comes in shades of one, beige-like color
  • Low impact strength
  • Non-resistant to UV light

PEKK (Poly Ether Ketone Ketone): a good alternative to PEEK

PEKK and PEEK are both part of the same polymer family called PAEK (Poly Aryl Ether Ketone). They boast similar properties in terms of strength, chemical resistance, and more. However, PEKK can be easier to process in 3D printing.

It is possible for filament manufacturers to tweak its melting point, and therefore generally requires lower temperatures. PEKK can also have a slightly higher glass transition temperature (Tg) than PEEK.

Find out more about PEKK in this article by material provider Arkema: PEEK vs PEKK.

Requirements for 3D printing PEEK and PEI high-performance materials

High-temperature extruder

The melting point for PEEK materials is 343°C. This means that the extruder needs to be able to reach that temperature or higher.

The hotend extruder must also be all-metal and be resistant to abrasions.

High temperature extruder for PEEK

Heated print bed

To print PAEK high-performance polymers, a heated bed is mandatory, and it must be able to reach temperatures of 120°C at the very least.

This ensures correct adhesion and overall 3D print quality.

Heated print bed for PEEK

Closed, heated chamber

PEEK is highly prone to shrinkage and warpage (sometimes called warping).

Ideally (and this is especially important for larger parts), the chamber temperature should be able to go up to or over 143°C, which is PEEK’s glass transition temperature (Tg).

Heated build chamber to 3D print PEEK

It is extremely important to be in control of these temperatures and to keep them constant, as fluctuations can easily affect print quality. However, these aren’t the only conditions for printing high-quality PEEK parts; post-treatment also plays a major role.

In order for PEEK to crystallize as well as possible – and thus for the printed parts to be as strong and stable as possible – the material must be cooled gradually.

Unlike PLA parts, which can be removed from the tray almost as soon as they are printed, waiting several hours for the temperature of a PEEK or ULTEM part to drop to room temperature is necessary. This avoids disturbing the material’s crystallization process.

Some PEEK printers provide precise control over the chamber’s cooling rate.

An overview of our 2021 PEEK 3D printer selection

http://3DGence%20INDUSTRY%20F420%20review%20-%20high-temperature%203D%20printer
Selection
By 3DGence
Build size380 × 380 × 420 mm
Extruder temp.500°C
Build chamber temp.180°C
Build plate temp.180°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 50,000

3DGence’s Industry F420 is an enlarged, upgraded version of the Industry F340, a 3D printer for PEEK that we’ve featured before.

It boasts even higher temperatures, as well as a new filament chamber that can hold up to four spools and keep them heated at 50°C.

http://3ntr%20SPECTRAL%2030%203D%20printer
Selection
By 3ntr
Build size300 × 300 × 300 mm
Extruder temp.500°C
Build chamber temp.250°C
Build plate temp.300°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 110,000

Italian manufacturer 3ntr has been producing high-temperature 3D printers for several years, but the Spectral 30 is their first printer to be officially dedicated to PEEK and PEI.

With its quadruple 500°C extruders, 300°C build plate, 250°C build chamber, and 110°C filament bay, the Spectral 30 is hard to match.

http://Apium%20P220
Selection
By Apium
Build size220 × 175 × 160 mm
Extruder temp.540°C
Build chamber temp.180°C
Build plate temp.160°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 29,000

This German 3D printer provides a smaller build volume than others on our list, but its adaptive heating system is an uncommon characteristic that is essential for compliance with very tight tolerances.

Repeatability is definitely one of the Apium P220’s main advantages, and makes it one of the best PEEK 3D printers on the market.

http://miniFactory%20Ultra%20PEEK%203D%20printer
Selection
Build size330 × 180 × 180 mm
Extruder temp.480°C
Build chamber temp.250°C
Build plate temp.250°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 54,000

Paired with miniFactory’s AARNI process monitoring system, the Ultra is able to deliver certifiable 3D printed parts.

It’s equipped with an annealing system as well, making it possible to enhance part quality and dimensional stability. The printer’s heated filament chamber keeps materials prepped at 120°C.

http://Roboze%20Argo%20350%20PEEK%203D%20printer
Selection
By Roboze
Build size350 × 300 × 300 mm
Extruder temp.450°C
Build chamber temp.180°C
Build plate temp.180°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 195,000

Roboze produces high-temperature 3D printers for professionals. This PEEK 3D printer uses a beltless rack to improve precision and a compressed air cooling system.

The ARGO 350 is equipped with filament sensors, two independently heated filament chambers, and automatic material loading.

http://Stratasys%20Fortus%20450mc%20ULTEM%20printer
Selection
Build size406 × 355 × 406 mm
Extruder temp.450°C
Build chamber temp.350°C
Build plate temp.350°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 149,000

Stratasys produces some of the best professional and industrial printers on the market, although it’s important to note that their systems are limited to Stratasys-branded materials.

The material choice for the Fortus 450mc includes ULTEM 1010 and ULTEM 9085, and a range of ABS, PC, ST and PA-based filaments. Stratasys markets the Fortus 450mc as a reliable machine that doesn’t require particular skills or advanced knowledge of 3D printing.

Runner-ups

There are a few other brands that produce good quality PEEK and PEI printers, which almost made it to the main list. However, we didn’t include them for different reasons (e.g. product not yet released, limited distribution network, and/or technical specs or features not up to par with the rest of the list, etc.).

Keep in mind that PEEK isn’t the ultimate “one size fits all” material. In many cases, other engineering materials or fiber-filled materials can substitute the need for PEEK.

http://3DXTech%20Gearbox%20HT2
Special mention
By 3DXTech
Build size457 × 457 × 813 mm
Extruder temp.475°C
Build chamber temp.225°C
Build plate temp.225°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 125,000

This manufacturer is originally a well-known filament manufacturer. They launched their own printer, the Gearbox HT2, as a solution capable of printing all of their proprietary filaments, including PEEK, PEKK, and ULTEM.

When developing this printer, 3DXTech took into account all the feedback they received from their PEEK filament customers. They have been ramping up their production over the past few months and will likely soon move up to our main selection.

http://The%20AON3D%20AON-M2%20is%20a%20professional%20PEEK%203D%20printer.
Special mention
By AON3D
Build size454 × 454 × 640 mm
Extruder temp.470°C
Build chamber temp.120°C
Build plate temp.200°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 50,000

Two years after launching the AON-M2, AON 3D launched the 2020 version, their third-generation PEEK 3D printer. This iteration received various hardware updates.

Special mention
By Omni3D
Build size500 × 500 × 575 mm
Extruder temp.°C
Build chamber temp.70°C
Build plate temp.150°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 35,000

Omni3D is quickly gaining ground on the professional printer market. Although the Factory 2.0 NET is capable of printing PEEK, it is mostly suited for engineering-grade materials, with which it offers reliable, high-quality results.

http://Essentium%20HSE%20180-S
Special mention
Build size740 × 510 × 650 mm
Extruder temp.600°C
Build chamber temp.110°C
Build plate temp.200°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 129,000

HSE stands for High Speed Extrusion, and this printer’s speed is at an impressive 500 mm/s. The HSE 180-S is also able to heat its extruder up to 500°C in only three seconds.

http://INTAMSYS%20FUNMAT%20PRO%20410
Special mention
Build size305 × 305 × 406 mm
Extruder temp.500°C
Build chamber temp.90°C
Build plate temp.160°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 20,000

This cost-effective PEEK printer features a dual extruder, heated filament chamber, a large build volume, and a high-precision auto bed leveling system.

INTAMSYS also manufactures industrial-grade high temp 3D printers such as the FUNMAT PRO 610 HT.

Special mention
By GEWO3D
Build size450 × 450 × 350 mm
Extruder temp.450°C
Build chamber temp.260°C
Build plate temp.270°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 190,000

The PERFORMER 260 is an industrial, production-ready PEEK 3D printer with a throughput of up to 0.5kg/hour. It is available with either two or four extruders, and an optional dry filament chamber is available.

http://zortrax%20endureal
Special mention
By Zortrax
Build size400 × 300 × 300 mm
Extruder temp.°C
Build chamber temp.200°C
Build plate temp.°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 50,000

Zortrax announced the arrival of the Endureal PEEK 3D printer late 2019. It has been available since early 2021.

http://Delta%20WASP%204070%20TECH
Special mention
By WASP
Build size⌀ 400 x 700 mm
Extruder temp.500°C
Build chamber temp.300°C
Build plate temp.300°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 48,000

WASP is an Italian manufacturer specialized in delta 3D printers for both professional and industrial use. They recently announced the Delta WASP 4070 TECH, a high-temperature 3D printer with an integrated filament drying chamber and vacuum build plate.

Alternatives for specific needs

Medical PEEK 3D printing

PEEK is a great contender for medical applications. It is namely used for long-term medical implants, as medical-grade PEEK is biocompatible and highly resistant. With certified materials and certified AM systems, it is possible to produce certified medical parts.

Another notable benefit is that PEEK implants, in contrast to metal implants, don’t interfere with scanning machines (MRI, CT, x-rays, …).

The three main medical PEEK 3D printer brands are Apium, VeraShape, and Kumovis.

Cost-effective PEEK printers

If you have a smaller budget but you’re willing to spend more time on tweaking and adjusting, there are more affordable options out there such as:

CreatBot, for example, has really been emerging this past year with a number of industrial-grade printer releases. They offer pretty good price-to-performance ratios and are available worldwide.

Affordable PEEK printer prices can start from around $6,000. They are able to print PEEK, but the resulting quality may not meet your standards, especially in terms of repeatability. These machines are however more than capable of printing other engineering-grade materials.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to get advice and quotes, and see if PEEK material is really what you need for your project.

Custom PEEK 3D printers

Some brands like TobecaQualup (SpiderBot), or Hyrel 3D aren’t widespread but offer interesting, tailored solutions for PEEK 3D printing.

Their custom PEI/PEEK 3D printers can be suitable for R&D applications or any case where specific sizes and components are needed.

Large, industrial PEEK 3D printing systems

Warpage is often an issue when 3D printing large parts. Hence, 3D printing large parts with a thermoplastic as challenging as PEEK is double the risk.

Some manufacturers that are specialized in large-scale 3D printers claim that they are also able to print PEEK (e.g. Cincinnati, BigRep, CEAD, Cosine Additive, etc.).

We know the PEEK printer market like the back of our hands. Contact us now to save time and receive expert advice based on your needs and budget. We’ll put you in touch with the right manufacturer or PEEK 3D printer distributor near you.

PEEK vs. ULTEM

PEEK and ULTEM® are quite similar, but have their differences:

  • Cost: ULTEM® is more cost-effective than PEEK.
  • Impact strength: PEI has lower impact strength than PEEK.
  • Tensile strength: PEEK has higher tensile strength than PEI.
  • Certifications: ULTEM® (especially the 9085 blend) has received numerous aerospace certifications and is easier to 3D print.
  • Temperature resistance: PEEK features higher temperature resistance than PEI.

Find out more about PEEK material in the video below:

Difference between PEI and ULTEM

ULTEM® is actually a brand of PEI manufactured by SABIC, a company based in Saudi Arabia. Most 3D printer manufacturers and filament resellers use SABIC’s name, ULTEM®, as it is the only brand of PEI base material available on the market.

SABIC sells PEI (ULTEM®) in the form of resins or foam. Smaller resellers then transform it into granulates, filament, etc.

Comparing PEEK vs PEI.
Comparison data for PEEK, PEI (ULTEM®), PC (Polycarbonate), Nylon and ABS. Source: Aaron Louis Technology

Applications for PEEK and ULTEM 3D printing

PEEK and ULTEM® 3D printing is mostly useful for manufacturers requiring strong prototypes and/or end parts that can withstand extreme conditions, in a variety of industries.

Some manufacturers even present PEEK 3D printing as an alternative to 3D printing metal parts.

Aerospace, automotive and military

Being lightweight yet strong and resistant, PEEK and ULTEM® 3D printed end parts are increasingly popular in aerospace, automotive and military fields.

ULTEM® has actually been used in the aerospace industry for decades and is heavily certified for related applications (e.g. airplane interiors).

Oil and gas

Thanks to PEEK’s chemical resistance and impermeability, oil and gas manufacturers can use the material to 3D print air valves and other parts.

Medical implants

PEEK and PEI are biocompatible, and can therefore be used for implants or other medical use cases.

Semiconductors

With PEEK’s electrical integrity it is possible to 3D print flexible circuit boards, as well as wire and cable insulation.

Cost of PEEK and ULTEM (PEI) 3D printing

PEEK 3D printers and ULTEM 3D printers price

Most PEEK-ready 3D printers are available at prices ranging from $20K to $100K, and can even go up to $250K. It might seem like a hefty price tag, but these professional additive manufacturing systems feature specific technology that is difficult to integrate into a machine.

However, some PEEK 3D printers under $10,000 do exist.

PEEK and ULTEM filament price

PEEK filament price

Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) material is among the most expensive plastics on the market: its price can range from about $400 to $700 per kilo.

ULTEM filament price

PEI, or ULTEM®, is a cheaper alternative to high-performance PEEK material. The cost per kilogram can vary between 150$ to around 280$.

PEEK 3D printer FAQ

What kind of material is ULTEM®?

ULTEM® is a kind of thermoplastic used for professional and industrial applications.

What is ULTEM® plastic?

ULTEM® plastic is Polyetherimide (PEI), a resistant engineering thermoplastic.

What is PEI 3D printing?

Professionals and industrials use PEI to produce strong prototypes or end-use parts/

What material is PEI?

PEI stands for Polyetherimide and is also known as ULTEM®, which is actually a brand manufactured by SABIC. This engineering thermoplastic is strong and resistant to extreme conditions, though less than PEEK.

What is PEEK plastic?

PEEK stands for Polyetheretherketone. It is a highly resistant material (extreme temperatures, chemicals, etc.).