Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) has been gaining space as biomaterials in implantable as well as non-implantable devices on account of superior properties namely excellent fatigue/wear properties, high strength-to-weight ratio, and biocompatibility. Furthermore, the versatility associated with PEEK is expected to influence compounders and finished product manufacturers to prefer numerous processing technologies such as injection molding, extrusion, and coating.
According to Data Bridge Market Research, the global PEEK market was valued at USD 0.75 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach a value of USD 1.27 billion by the end of 2029, growth at a CAGR of 6.8% from 2022 to 2029.
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The medical device manufacturing companies prefer PEEK components on account of being compatible as compared to other engineering polymers with diagnostic imaging and no artifacts. Furthermore, the fiber reinforcement in PEEK results in customizing the mechanical properties such as stiffness in accordance with application requirements.
Advancements in healthcare sector have paved the way for increasing the demand for engineering polymers such as PEEK on a global level in light of the latter’s utility in artificial bones as an alternative to metal-based diagnostic devices such as diabetic homecare goods, dialysis equipment, and orthopedics appliances. The overall market is also anticipated to experience a wide range of applications in the medical industry over the forecast period. PEEK finds use for spinal surgery purposes and is expected to be utilized for more clinical applications and commercial medical products with extensive spending on R&D in progress.
Gaining Acceptability of PEEK as Biomaterials in Various Applications
PEEK has emerged as one of the prime choices in various implant applications including spinal and orthopedic applications. The spinal application segment covers the product’s use in applications namely, disc arthroplasty, anterior cervical plates, interspinous spaces, and posterior spine stabilization rods. On the other hand, the orthopedic segment has been witnessing extensive use of PEEK in various areas namely, knee and shoulder arthroscopy, hip cups, tibial screw anchors, and sheaths. Improved stability, excellent wear performance, and less requirements for revision are some of the attributes of PEEK that have been felicitating the orthopedic experts.
Over the past few years, specialty chemical companies such as Evonik came up with the next-generation PEEK with excellent biocompatibility, biostability, and x-ray transparency. Germany-based Evonik is engaged in the manufacturing and selling of VESTAKEEP PEEK for medical applications such as i-Grades for permanent surgical implants, Dental-Grades, and Care-Grades for medical devices. It is well known that metals have been deployed in spine cages and other implants of the human body. Metal implants had limitations during the operation and monitoring of the healing process. These conventional implants absorb x-rays and produce artifacts on the radiographic images due to their density. PEEK is expected to have unique features on account of being transparent to x-rays. Furthermore, the elasticity of VESTAKEEP i-Grade PEEK is considered closer to cortical bone with high elasticity as compared to metal counterparts. Therefore, the use of PEEK results in deterring the stress-shielding effect on bone and allowing a longer healthier life for the treated patients. Therefore, i-Grade formats find application in various applications namely, spine, sports medicine, cardiovascular, cranialmaxillo-facial, and orthopedics.
Longevity Assurance Aimed for Non-Implantable Medical Devices is Projected to Prompt the Usage of Peek in the Near Future
It has been observed that PEEK has maintained an edge over other engineering polymers on account of its imperviousness to a wide range of chemicals, solvents, and sanitizers in healthcare facilities as well as medical laboratories. This engineered polymer is capable of providing exceptionally long life for components which are expected to last through many hundreds of cycles in all common sterilization methods. For instance, one of the major resin suppliers conducted the testing which revealed that PEEK could retain its strength and ductility even after 1,000 autoclave cycles. As a result, PEEK has been found in various non-implantable devices such as pumps, pistons, seals, bearings, and valves due to the aforementioned attributes. For instance, PEEK has been incorporated for the production of seals and bearings which are intended for applications such as dialysis equipment, blood pumps, reusable medical instruments, infusion pumps, tissue cutting tools, and medical device fixtures.
3D Printing Boom in Healthcare Sector is Likely to Unlock the New Avenues for Companies to Pursue Value-Addition
Over the past few years, 3D printing has been gaining acceptance in the healthcare sector 3D printing in healthcare as it is considered to have less manufacturing lead time as compared to traditional methods used in the production of medical devices and components. It has been seen that this method is deployed to create intricate scaffolds that mimic the structure of human organs. Such scaffolds pave the way for cells to grow and thus, result in facilitating tissue regeneration in human organs.
Technological advancement such as CAD/CAM leads to modification in less expensive and time-consuming procedures than the earlier procedures. The development of innovative 3D printers utilizing different technologies such as electron beam melting, laser beam melting, photopolymerization, droplet deposition (DD) or extrusion-based technologies, and three-dimensional printing (3DP) or adhesion bonding or binder jetting proves to be advantageous for healthcare industries.
The incorporation of 3D printing of PEEK promotes the reconstruction of tissues in the outer periphery of implants and thus, accelerates osteointegration. The PEEK manufacturing companies are keeping a close eye on such developments and thus, increasing spending on the development of PEEK-based 3D printing biomaterials. For instance, in June 2021, Evonik launched a new PEEK-based 3D printing filament under the brand name, VESTAKEEP Care M40 3DF. The high-performance engineering material can be 3D printed by use of a common high-temperature FDM 3D printer which can process PEEK. VESTAKEEP Care M40 3DF is available in a diameter of 1.75mm, with each spool weighing 500g. Evonik claims that the product is manufactured under cleanroom conditions, with 3D printing filament subjected to the strict quality management standards of medical materials. This product innovation is expected to promote the application base of Evonik to numerous individualized patient care segments, which cover areas namely, hearing aids, orthotics, prosthetics, dental drilling guides, and surgical tools.
In March 2023, Invibio Biomaterial Solutions announced plans for launch of PEEK-OPTIMA AM Filament, an implantable PEEK polymer that is optimized for Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) additive manufacturing processes. Furthermore, the product will be available as powders, granules, and rods. Invibio claims that the use of these PEEK product forms allows hospital facilities to customize PEEK devices in-house, at the point of care, by the use of FDM/FFF-compatible machines. Furthermore, PEEK-OPTIMA AM Filament offer numerous advantages to healthcare professionals, particularly in specialties such as CMF, where the parameters namely, design precision and manufacturing at speed are required.
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Gaining Acceptability of Surgical Robots in Healthcare Sector will Expand the Application Reach for PEEK in New Segments
In the last two decades, the shortage of medical professionals such as surgeons and physicians on a global level along with the shifting preference towards automated instruments aimed for surgery has played a key role in promoting the use of surgical robots. Furthermore, the rising occurrences of bone degenerative disorders coupled with increasing spending on hip and knee replacement surgeries in light of the increased number of patients suffering from arthritis as well as osteoporosis has played a key role in increasing the prominence of surgical robots.
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As per the OECD statistics, it has been witnessed that the number of hip and knee replacements has increased rapidly in the majority of OECD countries namely, Germany, Italy, France and OECD 32. Having said this, hip replacement rates and knee replacement rates have increased by 19% and 35% in OECD countries from the period of 2009 to 2019. Furthermore, as per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it has been estimated that the U.S., reports more than 450,000 hip replacements per year. Therefore, this rise in the number of hip and knee replacements is expected to increase the importance of surgical robots among surgeons.
The healthcare facilities deploy surgical robots as they can ensure numerous benefits such as fewer scars, reduced post-surgery pain, précised accuracy, shorter hospitalizations and reduced risk of infections. PEEK has been considered as an effective advanced materials in surgical robots as it induces the autoclaving for multiple components of surgical robots which is required to resist repeated sterilization. Furthermore, the incorporation of PEEK for the manufacturing of surgical robots results in inducing unique attributes such as high mechanical loads and high-speed rotations. Having said this, the increasing acceptability of surgical robots in the replacement surgery segment is projected to keep the high prospect for PEEK as biomaterials over the next few years.
Paradigm Shift from Reusable Equipment to Single-Use Biopharma Equipment in Healthcare Sector is expected to Increase the Industry Penetration of PEEK
Over the past few years, the pharmaceutical industry participants have been witnessing trends in terms of adoption of cost reduction practices, elimination in cross-contamination risks, and improved production flexibility. The pharmaceutical companies have been increasingly spending in shifting from reusable consumables and equipment with a high risk of their transfer into cleanrooms towards single-use technologies to reduce concerns around time, costs, and non-sterility. The incorporation of single-use technology is expected to ensure the reduction in concerns such as time, costs, and non-sterility; which are associated with reusable consumables and equipment.
Single-use technology is utilized in various product forms namely, tubing, ion exchange membrane chromatography devices, capsule filters, bioreactors, mixers, and sampling receptacles. PEEK is projected to be one of the key advanced materials that could fulfill the objectives of the implementation of single-use technology on account of offering various features such as high superior compatibility with gamma sterilization, low leaching in biopharma chemicals, and high purity and USP Class VI compliance.
Incorporation of PEEK Display as Cost-Effective Materials in Healthcare Sector Will Be Open New Areas of Investment for the Industry Participants
PEEK is expected to remain one of the next-generation screen display materials on account of offering exceptional mechanical, optical, and electrical properties. As a result, the incorporation of PEEK in the display product forms is intended to deliver a unique visual experience characterized by high resolution, vibrant colors, and exceptional clarity. PEEK display is also considered to ensure durability and flexibility as it is considered highly resistant to impact, scratch, and thermal stress. Therefore, the display product buyers are expected to use PEEK as a sustainable solution that limit the frequent replacements and thus, reduces the total operating costs.
The importance of energy efficiency as a cost reduction tool has been increased across the B2B buyers segment. Therefore, the PEEK display is expected to be a one-step solution for ensuring significant energy efficiency benefits as it is not only capable of ensuring low power consumption along with the extension of the battery life.
The healthcare sector is one of the key verticals which could be benefitted with the utility of PEEK display. The enhanced visual experience and superior durability of PEEK display is expected to pave the way for medical professionals to use the product’s expertise in diagnostic imaging, surgical procedures, and patient care. Furthermore, PEEK display possess attributes such as high-resolution capabilities and accurate color representation, which will help the radiologists to detect the subtle abnormalities in medical images, and will ensure the precise diagnosis.
Increasing willingness in healthcare industry to use products with exceptional properties such as superior biocompatibility and excellent mechanical strength is expected to promote the use of PEEK as next generation advanced materials. Technological advancements such as active deployment of 3D printing and increasing acceptability surgical robots in knee and hip replacement are projected to expand the market reach of PEEK in the near future. The industry participants such as Evonik and Invibio Biomaterial Solutions have been closely tracking the buyer’s patterns and awareness regarding the use of PEEK. Having said this, these companies have been launching next-generation PEEK product forms which are intended for target-based applications from dental, orthopedic, spinal, cranial, and cardiovascular segments. Developed economies including the U.S., Germany, U.K., France, and Japan are expected to remain the key country markets for PEEK due to strong adoption rate of advanced engineering materials in their domestic health sectors. However, the growing healthcare segment in emerging economies such as China, India, Taiwan, and Vietnam on account of supportive government policies is expected to open new avenues for PEEK manufacturers to invest in new geographies.
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