PEEK Gear Applications

PEEK Plastic: The Durable Automotive Innovation Material

Advancements in automotive technology have led to incredible innovations in safety, fuel efficiency, and performance. One key material advancement that is driving improved designs is the increased use of plastics, and specifically a high-performance plastic called PEEK.

PEEK raw materials

What is PEEK?

PEEK (polyether ether ketone) is an engineering thermoplastic that has exceptional resistance to heat, chemicals, and wear and tear. It maintains its mechanical properties and stability even when continuously exposed to temperatures approaching 500°F.

With its unique combination of being lightweight yet extremely strong and rigid, PEEK has become a go-to plastic for replacing metal components in automotive applications. Let's take a closer look at why PEEK is being adopted rapidly in the auto industry.

PEEK plastic

Key Automotive Applications of PEEK

PEEK offers important benefits for various systems and components in modern vehicles:

Engine and Transmission Parts

The high heat tolerance and lubricant resistance of PEEK makes it perfect for parts that need to perform consistently even when exposed to extreme engine environments over long periods of time. PEEK is used to make critical components like piston parts, pumps, clutches, pulleys, valve components, and engine cover parts.

Compared to metals, PEEK engine parts are lighter weight, more resistant to heat-induced warping, and custom moldable into complex geometries not possible with metals. This leads to improved engine performance, efficiency, and durability.

Fuel System Components

PEEK offers excellent chemical resistance to gasoline, petroleum products, and other aggressive automotive fluids. It maintains strength and structure when exposed to hydrocarbons, brake fluids, coolants, and other harsh chemicals.

This allows PEEK to be used for fuel system components like fuel rails, fuel pump parts, sensors, and fuel line connectors. PEEK stand up to years of chemical exposure without degrading while keeping the fuel system sealed and secure.

Safety and Structural Components

The inherent strength and rigidity of PEEK plastic means it can be used for critical safety parts that need to maintain their integrity. Components like airbag housings, seat belt anchors, and suspension parts can be made from PEEK to optimize structural integrity.

PEEK's vibration damping properties are also beneficial for engine mounts, struts, and other structures that need to withstand continuous shaking and forces over years of driving.

Bearings, Bushings, and Wear Parts

The natural lubricity and abrasion resistance of PEEK plastic makes it useful for bearings, bushings, cams, and other parts that require minimal friction and wear. PEEK has 15 times lower friction than metals like aluminum and maintains its slippery properties without additional lubricants.

Automakers use injection molded PEEK bearings and bushings that don't require further machining or treatment. This improves part consistency while reducing production time and costs.

PEEK gears

Electrical Components

PEEK offers high dielectric strength and insulation properties, making it useful for electrical and electronic applications. It maintains these properties across a wide temperature range.

Parts like sensors, connectors, fuse holders, and relay components can utilize PEEK plastic for its heat resistance, dimensional stability, and electrical insulation even when mounted near hot engine environments.

Replacing Metals with Lighter, Stronger PEEK Parts

One of the key benefits of PEEK in automotive applications is the potential to replace heavier, metal components with lighter weight PEEK plastic parts. This helps reduce overall vehicle weight which translates directly to improved fuel efficiency and performance.

Some examples of metal replacement using PEEK include:

  • Timing belt tensioners - Replacing die-cast aluminum with PEEK injection molded tensioner pulleys reduces weight by up to 60%. This improves engine efficiency and reduces noise.
  • Fuel rails - PEEK fuel rails optimize fuel delivery while reducing weight by up to 30% compared to metal rails. This supports overall fuel efficiency.
  • Pump housings - PEEK plastic pump housings casts or machined metals housings by improving corrosion resistance, reducing noise, and significantly reducing weight.
  • Bearings and bushings - PEEK bearings and bushings replace metal equivalents while offering lower friction, better abrasion resistance, and lighter weight.
  • Electrical components - PEEK plastic housings for electrical parts like connectors, sensors, and fuses offer the electrical insulation of plastics with the durability and heat resistance needed near engines.

With its strength-to-weight ratio exceeding metals like aluminum and stainless steel, PEEK continues to allow new opportunities to remove bulk and weight without sacrificing component performance and longevity.


Key Properties and Performance Advantages of PEEK Plastic

Now that we’ve covered the major automotive applications of PEEK plastic, let’s examine what gives PEEK its innovative material advantages:

Heat and Temperature Resistance

PEEK retains its excellent mechanical properties even when continuously exposed to hot environments. It offers long-term heat stability up to 500°F, far exceeding the capabilities of other plastics. PEEK also maintains strength during temperature cycling, which is critical for engine components.

This extreme thermal endurance allows PEEK to replace metals in parts that need to perform and retain dimensions and structure despite years of high heat engine exposure.

Chemical and Fluid Resistance

In addition to heat resistance, PEEK demonstrates outstanding resistance to automotive fluids, hydrocarbon fuels, lubricants, brake fluids, and other harsh chemicals. Its inert properties mean it won’t degrade or corrode when exposed to aggressive substances in engine environments.

Parts made from PEEK plastic maintain their integrity and sealing properties when in contact with corrosive chemicals and petroleum products. This is essential for components like fuel system parts and fluid seals.

Strength and Structural Rigidity

PEEK plastic has very high strength-to-weight ratios exceeding those of metals like titanium and steel alloys. Its tensile strength, flexural modulus, and other mechanical properties make it extremely rigid and stiff.

These properties allow structurally critical automotive components to be constructed from PEEK plastic instead of metals while retaining dimensional stability and performance. Parts such as airbag housings, seat structures, and suspension components benefit from PEEK’s inherent rigidity.

Vibration and Noise Damping

With its inherent damping properties, PEEK plastic parts can reduce vibration and noise in automotive components. This is useful in parts like bushings, bearings, spring isolators, and other assemblies that need to limit vibration transfer and noise.

PEEK’s characteristics allow engineers to design low-noise systems, improving the overall cabin experience. Parts can be consolidated, reducing the number of separate components required.

Design and Manufacturing Flexibility

Unlike metals, PEEK plastic can be injection molded into complex, specialized component geometries. Parts can be designed with engineering plastics in mind from the beginning rather than just replacing simple metal shapes with plastic.

Manufacturing PEEK involves lower tooling costs than metal parts. PEEK parts can also eliminate secondary machining and finishing steps often needed for metallic components. This reduces overall manufacturing overhead when working with PEEK.


Automotive Industry Trends and the Future of PEEK Use

PEEK plastic has already demonstrated its value for multiple automotive applications from engines to electronics. However, expanded use of PEEK is expected as automakers aim for more efficient, lighter vehicles.

Some key trends that point to even greater utilization of PEEK plastic include:

Increasing electrification

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining market share rapidly. EVs have different demands than internal combustion engines, with lightweighting being even more critical. PEEK will allow more metal components to be transitioned to plastic without sacrificing mechanical requirements.

Powertrain downsizing

Average vehicle engine sizes are decreasing, meaning individual components need to handle higher power densities. PEEK allows downsized, high-performance powertrain elements to withstand greater stresses and temperatures.

Vehicle lightweighting

Automakers continue to lightweight vehicles to meet fuel efficiency standards. PEEK will enable further weight reductions by substituting additional steel, aluminum and magnesium components with PEEK plastic.

High-durability designs

As vehicles last longer, designs must better withstand 10+ years of operation. PEEK offers the longevity and performance retention needed for more durable vehicle systems and parts.

Increased part consolidation

PEEK’s design and manufacturing flexibility allows for increased part consolidation where one complex PEEK component can replace multiple metal pieces. This further reduces weight and simplifies assembly.

The Future Looks Bright with PEEK

PEEK plastic clearly represents an important innovation material that will be critical moving forward in the global automotive industry. Its unique balance of being both extremely durable while lightweight points to a bright future of expanded applications across all types of vehicles.

As technology advances and automakers aim for smarter, safer and more efficient vehicles, PEEK provides an enabling material solution. Expect to see exponential growth in PEEK usage throughout all vehicle systems in the years ahead.

So as you see plastics playing an increasing role in tomorrow’s automobiles, you’ll know PEEK plastic is quietly driving many of those innovations under the hood. Durable, heat-resistant, and versatile, PEEK is the future of high-performance plastic solutions for the automotive industry.

PEEK Gear Applications
If you are interested in using PEEK Plastic in your project or want to know more information, welcome to harass us. We are a professional supplier and manufacturer of all kinds of plastic custom processing and production, with a professional team of engineers and precision equipment, we can provide you with customized plastic solutions that meet your specifications and budget. We are happy to serve you and help you fulfill your needs. Do you need a free quote or help with any questions or materials?
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