PEEK has increasingly become a popular material for medical devices due to its biocompatibility. The nature of the polymer allows for good pushability and buckling resistance for the thin walled tubes used in minimally invasive devices—and Putnam specializes in extrusion for such devices. Unlike polyimide, another common polymer used in medtech manufacturing, PEEK can be manipulated via melting processes, and therefore can easily be extruded in large diameter, thin-wall tubes.
Putnam’s single lumen PEEK extrusions include vascular catheters with diameters as small as 0.010 inches (0.254 mm) and wall thicknesses of 0.002 inches (0.050 mm). Larger extrusions for non-vascular applications, such as natural orifice transluminal endoscopy surgery (known as NOTES) devices, are available in diameters up to 1 inch (25.4 mm) with 0.010 inch (0.254 mm) wall thicknesses. Thin-wall PEEK tubing can be manufactured semi-transparent or in custom colors. Putnam also offers plasma enhanced printing on PEEK tubing.
“Processing temperatures for PEEK are much higher than traditional catheter materials such as urethanes and polyamides,” said Larry Alpert, new product development manager at Putnam. “Few companies have the temperature capabilities or controls to extrude PEEK and those that do often focus on either small diameter tubes or large, solid shapes since they are somewhat easier than large, thin wall PEEK extrusions. Larger tubes provide new possibilities for emerging medical devices.”
Photo of PEEK tubing courtesy of Putnam Plastics Corp.