Manuel Garcia-Leiner Ph.D. *, Oana Ghita †, Robert McKay M.B.A., M.S.F. ‡, Steven M. Kurtz Ph.D. §
Additive manufacturing (AM), otherwise known as three-dimensional printing (3DP), is a growing technology area comprising a spectrum of processes that allow production of solid objects of virtually any shape from information obtained from a digital object. These days, AM processes drive major innovations in engineering, manufacturing, art, education, and medicine. However, most AM processes are not necessarily new. Introduced commercially in the 1990s mainly through prototyping efforts for the manufacture of complex metal parts, AM processes have almost a 30-year history for plastics, and have driven the development of multiple commercial products through manufacturing techniques ranging from stereo-lithography to laser-based powder fusion processes. A growing number of polymeric resins intended for AM have become available in recent times due to developments of new processes and technological advancements. Of these, high-performance thermoplastics such as the polyaryletherketones (PAEKs) are perhaps the most promising candidates for demanding engineering applications. Polymers such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), and polyetherketoneetherketoneketone (PEKEKK), could revolutionize and enable the use of additively manufactured plastic parts in critical environments. However, despite their similarity in terms of chemistry and composition, commercially available PAEK resins show varying physical properties due to their molecular size-dependent structural differences that make them function differently in common AM processes. This chapter describes some of the advancements and opportunities for PAEK polymers in AM processes, as well as the relationships between structure and property and the morphological changes observed in these materials when subjected to conditions typically found in common AM processes.