Enhancing 3D printed medical implants using Evonik’s carbon fiber reinforced PEEK filament

Evonik has enhanced 3D printed medical implants with its new carbon fiber reinforced PEEK filament from the VESTAKEEP® filament portfolio.

Speciality chemicals producer Evonik is introducing a new carbon fiber 3D printing filament which can create 3D printed medical implants. Through this new material, Evonik continues to provide another alternative to metal 3D-printed implants. 

The new product is part of the VESTAKEEP® filament portfolio and comes with 12- 20% carbon-fiber content, adaptable according to the needs of 3D-printed medical implants.  The PEEK biomaterial used in the 3D printing process is an ideal mix of high strength, lightweight and ductility.  

Read more on the topic: Focus: Evonik on the role of polymer materials in improving the next generation of 3D printed implants

Creating high carbon-fiber reinforced PEEK  filament 

The PEEK 3D filament launched by Evonik is processed through common extrusion-based 3D printing technologies like fused filament fabrication (FFF). The company will be presenting its new product at upcoming medical technology and 3D printing trade shows.  

The new carbon fiber reinforced PEEK filaments has two formats – the 12% carbon fiber content VESTAKEEP® iC4612 3DF  and the 20% carbon fiber content VESTAKEEP® iC4620 3DF.  Depending upon the type of 3D-printed medical implants – bone plates or reconstructive prostheses, the specific PEEK filament is used. 

Earlier, Evonik showed how PEEK technology can be used to create next gen 3D printed implants including cranial 3D printed implants successfully used in surgery, bone regeneration implants etc. 

Both the new 3D printing filaments are 1.75 mm in diameter which helps them to supply on 500g and 1,000g spools, compatible for direct use with standard FFF/FDM 3D printers for PEEK materials. Evonik follows strict quality management for producing filaments to be used in 3D-printed medical implants. 

Patient-specific 3D-printed medical implants

For the last 20 years, Evonik has been developing smart biomaterials suitable additive manufacturing technologies and in the last 5 years, it has successfully manufactured new PEEK-based filaments for medical 3D printing applications. The company’s current portfolio of 3D printed medical implants includes five long-term and one short-term body contact implant. 

Long-term body contact implants:

  •  VESTAKEEP® i4 3DF – Implant grade (long-term)
  • VESTAKEEP® i4 3DF-T – Test and development grade
  • VESTAKEEP® iC4800 3DF – Osteoconductive implant grade
  • VESTAKEEP® iC4612 3DF – Carbon-fiber reinforced (12%) implant grade
  • VESTAKEEP® iC4620 3DF – Carbon-fiber reinforced (20%) implant grade

Short-term body contact implants:

  • VESTAKEEP® Care M40 3DF – Medical care grade

The VESTAKEEP 3D printing filaments have enhanced mechanical strength due to its high carbon-fiber content which compliments the ductility of the PEEK components. The carbon fibers can be aligned accordingly to fit into the 3D printing process. It also makes the 3D-printed medical implants biocompatible to withstand x-rays and metal allergies in patients. 

 The Head of Medical Systems at Evonik, Marc Knebel spoke of this when he said: “by introducing the world’s first carbon-fiber reinforced PEEK filament for long-term medical implants, we continue to design biomaterials that open up new possibilities in today’s medical technology for patient-specific treatment“. 

Knebel stressed on the applications of 3D printing in the healthcare and medical field by stating, “In trauma applications, for instance, 3D printed solutions offer an enormous time advantage over traditionally manufactured medical devices. It is conceivable that patient-specific solutions can be manufactured within two or three days, significantly improving the recovery phase”. 

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