We were approached by the R&D department of a dental equipment manufacturing and development company.
Initially the request was for us to look at applying a PTFE coating system for one of their dental instruments to replace the chrome plating they had been using but weren’t entirely happy with.
Why the customer initially ruled out PEEK
When a customer appears to know what they want, our first step is to confirm they have selected a suitable product for their application. In this case, the customer’s preference was to use a PTFE coating to replace a current chrome plating as they desperately wanted to make the move to a polymer coated product.
They told us they really wanted to use PEEK, but unfortunately they had to date been unable to find a supplier who could provide a PEEK coated sample that met their quality requirements. These experiences had led to the dismissal of PEEK as a material and resulted in them looking at PTFE instead.
AFT Fluorotec are a Victrex approved processor of PEEK materials and applicator of PEEK coatings, so we were desperate to demonstrate how good the product is if done properly.
A quick chat and we had convinced the potential customer to reopen the case for a PEEK coated solution with AFT on board as their technical partners.
Overcoming issues with die cast aluminium components
Upon commencing the project, we immediately had a potential problem. The dental device was made up of a series of die cast aluminium components, and this material doesn’t like getting very hot. In general, aluminium will start to form physical deformations and blisters at fairly low temperatures, certainly much lower than the normal temperatures we would require to process a PEEK coating.
Testing and manipulation
We take great pride in finding technical solutions for our clients, where others haven’t been able to.
We were certain we could develop a custom solution, but this needed some testing:
- We set up a program of heat testing of the PEEK samples to evaluate their behaviour at varying temperatures
- Simultaneously we performed some experimentation with test samples, manipulating the processing parameters of the PEEK coatings systems with a view to working at slightly lower temperatures than normal
- Working with our technical partners and colleagues at Victrex we were able to develop a solution in spite of these limitations
Our customer has since carried out their own extensive testing on our PEEK coated die cast aluminium components and they are delighted with the results. They’re also extremely pleased that they’ve been able to use their first choice material rather than opting for PTFE coatings.
We have been able to overcome all of the technical challenges and supply the quality and product of first choice where none of our competitors offering PEEK coatings could.
We relish these challenges and always strive to find the best material or product for our customers, rather than what’s easiest for us to manufacture.
Speak to us about your PEEK coating requirements now.