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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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medical 
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injection mold 
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Four-fold diode-holders made of PEEK.
Four-fold diode-holders made of PEEK.
Photo: 12

Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) offers excellent mechanical properties even at high temperatures. The high density offers an important prerequisite in case of small and thin-walled components, as these parts are often exposed to high loads.

The high biocompatibility is also worth mentioning. As a result, the material is also very suitable for the production of high-resilient implants.

For processing of PEEK, the temperature level is at the upper limit of what is standard in plastics processing. The plasticizing unit of the injection molding machine operates in the temperature range around 400°C and also the mold is heated up to temperatures of 200°C. The pre-drying usually takes place beyond 150°C.

The plasticizing unit should be adapted to the production conditions. The appropriate size depends on the throughput, taking into account that on the one hand the high temperature level is easily achievable, but that on the other hand the material does not remain too long in the plasticizing cylinder.

The small plasticizing units of Dr. Boy's injection molding machines BOY XS and BOY XXS are suited for such applications. In particular the design of the screw-anteroom and that of the nozzle is very suitable for the processing of high temperature thermoplastics.

With a minimum screw pitch volume the dwell time in the smallest plasticizing cylinders is significantly minimized. Thus, a large number of materials can be processed even at high temperatures without thermal damage.

Because of the relatively high material prices of PEEK, a largely waste-free production should be the aim, especially in the case of medical-technical applications. Hot runner molds or molds which only require compact gating systems (depending on the number of molds and cavities) are preferable.

Molds with a small number of cavities are therefore seen more frequently, which is often required by the complex contours of the mold. Correspondingly low shot weights require small plasticizing units so that small injection molding machines are often preferred in PEEK-processing.

The processing shows that the material is thermally quite robust, but that shear loads can lead to material damages. Under certain circumstances very small gates and thin-walled bridges can be the cause of discoloration, which may indicate material damage.

Especially in the medical technology dark spots are a direct rejection criterion. This means that the ideal injection conditions must be found and constantly kept process-reliable. The machine should therefore run in the optimum operating range.

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