Victrex to invest millions to expand PAEK 3D printing with Bond 3D

UK-headquartered performance plastics developer Victrex has confirmed its intention to invest millions of Euros in Dutch 3D printer and software developer Bond 3D.

Founded in 1993, Victrex’s mission is to develop new applications and commercialize PEEK and PAEK polymer products. With this substantial investment in Bond 3D, the company aims to expand its delivery in 3D printing.

Jakob Sigurdsson, CEO at Victrex, comments, “Our investment in Bond’s 3D technology is a logical way to accelerate 3D printed PAEK/PEEK parts to market.”

“We need to ensure that all the key elements, including material, process, and hardware are aligned to fulfill our goal of enabling our customers to manufacture 3D printed PAEK components for critical high performance applications.”

In addition, Sigurdsson asserts that the company and high performance 3D printing are now at stage where they can “embark on exciting development programs,” stepping up from prototyping to end use application.

Sample of 3D printed Victrex PEEK made using Bond 3D technology. Photo via Bond High Performance 3D Technology
Sample of 3D printed Victrex PEEK made using Bond 3D technology. Photo via Bond High Performance 3D Technology

Victrex performance polymers

PAEK and PEEK at Victrex are available as films, pipes, coatings, composites, gears, fibers and pelletized polymers. In 3D printing, the company provides PEEK-OPTIMA, made for medical applications, and VICTREX™ PAEK thermoplastic. The company’s PAEK thermoplastic has been developed both as a powder for laser sintering and as a filament. One of the strengths of VICTREX™ PAEK filament is that it has been designed to maximize strength across the Z axis, a common weakness of FFF/FDM objects particularly with this type of material. Maximizing Z-strength is also one of the chief objectives of the company’s new partner Bond 3D. “With our dedicated focus on 3D printing technology for high-performance polymers, we were able to develop a technology to achieve the full strength of existing PAEK and PEEK polymers,” Says Gerald Holtvlüwer, CEO of Bond 3D.

“This includes the strength in the Z-direction, which is the most difficult to achieve with high-performance polymers in general and PEEK in particular.”

Void-free 3D printing 

Founded in 2014, Bond 3D has developed a proprietary technology for 3D printing high performance polymers. In comparison with other high performance 3D printing methods, Bond 3D’s technology is reportedly capable of manufacturing parts that are “virtually free” of microstrctural voids. The way this is achieved, according to the company, is by adapting “the printing process to the material instead of manipulating the material to make it printable.”

Microstructure of parts 3D printed using Bond 3D technology vs others. Image via Bond 3D
Microstructure of parts 3D printed using Bond 3D technology vs others. Image via Bond 3D

Bond 3D’s hardware and software capable of producing parts with such high tensile strength are currently at a beta testing phase. A proof of concept machine was developed by the company in 2016, and through 2019 the company is planning to scale-up the installation of its 3D printers. With Victrex, Bond 3D will first focus on developing PAEK and PEEK polymer 3D printing capabilities for spine and semiconductor products, using the company’s commercially available PEEK-OPTIMA and VICTREX™ PAEK.

Holtvlüwer comments, “We’re excited to partner with a world leader in PAEK polymer-based solutions. Victrex´s material know-how and their strong marketing and sales activities, are a perfect channel to market for us and a complement to our pioneering technology.”

For Victrex, Sigurdsson says, “Collaboration and partnerships are the key to establishing the necessary supply chain for additive manufactured PAEK parts.”

“[Bond 3D’s] advanced technical capabilities and ambitious, innovative culture will help to meet the needs of industries that can benefit from the exceptional material properties PAEK brings, in combination with the manufacturing benefits and freedom that their AM technology offers.”

Victrex is also working with award winning OEM E3D-Online to develop its polymers for processing via modified consumer 3D printers.

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Featured image shows 3D printed polymer dogbone in tensile testing. Photo via Bond 3D