It is easy to focus on the end product of the 3D printing process, especially as so many stunning innovations are being produced around the world. 3D printed parts are responsible for creating aerospace components, entire rockets, cars, and so many other items of all sizes and matters of importance, spanning nearly every industry. Suddenly there is an overwhelming amount of hardware to choose from to create such 3D printed industrial magic—and materials have progressed too as users’ needs have expanded, along with their willingness to experiment.
Now, Omnexus by SpecialChem is taking time to educate the public on alternative (and highly industrial) materials like Polyetherimide (PEI). With a recent comprehensive review of the high-performance polymer, we are able to understand more fully why it is used in serious engineering applications. It is important to understand that polyetherimides have been created in part to make up for areas where polyimides are lacking.
Although polyimides are known for their strength, stability, mechanical properties, and more, they are also more difficult to melt, and can be less cost-effective to use. PEI materials, however, offer the following:
- Good processability
- High chemical resistance
- Superior properties for electrical insulation
- Good flame resistance
- High tensile strength with versatile temperature range
Created in 1982, PEI is now distributed by numerous suppliers (SABIC, RTP Company, Lehmann & Voss, Quadrant, PolyOne) and is popular for ‘highly demanding applications.’ It is used in resin form for creating 3D printed, high-strength prototypes and parts.
In areas such as automotive, PEI is being used more often in both electrical and lighting systems, along with ‘under-the hood’ applications. In these cases, temperature and chemical resistance and high strength are required to create items like transmission parts, ignition components, reflectors, lamp sockets, and a range of electric and mechanical systems like fuses, switches, bearings, and much more.
For the electronics market overall, PEI is being used due to its high heat resistance. This is especially conducive for parts such as fiber optics connectors, controllers, motorized parts, circuit boards, and more. The material is also used for molded interconnect devices (MIDs) because of its capabilities for plating, and allowing for the pairing of electronics and 3D printing. Ceramic-filled polyetherimide grades are also useful for microwave circuit boards, electronic chips, and capacitors.
For medical applications, PEI is useful in creating disposable medical devices, along with probe housings. It is able to resist high sterilization temperatures, and can withstand exposure to ethylene oxide gas and gamma radiation. PEI is also used for biohybrid applications, plus creation of other medical items like handles, enclosures, and even prostheses.
Other important uses are found in creating HVAC equipment with PEI, industrial cookware, food packaging trays, and more. PEI can be processed in methods like injection molding, compression molding, 3D printing, and thermoforming.
Find out more about PEI compounds here.
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