There are only a few polymers suitable for space. Now, Z-PEEK, a 3D printing filament based on polyether ether ketone made to work with Zortrax Endureal industrial 3D printer, was confirmed to meet ESA’s outgassing requirements.
All polymeric materials must meet strict outgassing requirements before they are cleared for a space flight. Gases released by a vast majority of polymers in high vacuum tend to contaminate sensors and other fragile spacecraft components, which severely degrades their performance. Major space agencies like ESA and NASA follow standardized testing procedures to check outgassing properties of materials they want to send to space.
At ESA, for which Zortrax is currently working on two separate 3D printing projects, this procedure is regulated by the ECSS-Q-70-02A standard. The report confirming Z-PEEK’s compliance with this standard was issued by ESA on March 17, 2022. This means that parts 3D printed with Z-PEEK on the Zortrax Endureal 3D printer can be launched in space missions, provided other application-specific requirements are also met.
„Compliance with outgassing requirements is absolutely crucial when it comes to providing materials for space industry. Having those properties confirmed by tests done at ESA’s ESTEC facilities and getting an official report from those tests enable us to provide more value to our most demanding customers” – says Michał Siemaszko, Head of Research and Development Department at Zortrax.
But outgassing properties are just part of the reason why Z-PEEK is a great 3D printing material for space industry. Earlier in March 2022, the first paper co-authored by Zortrax engineers and ESA’s team led by Dr Ugo Lafont, an expert on polymeric materials at ESA, was presented at the IEEE Aerospace Conference in Big Sky, Montana, USA. In a joint research project, ESA and Zortrax teams confirmed that parts 3D printed with Z-PEEK passed thermal vacuum cycling tests performed between –100 °C and 100 °C. CT scans performed before and after the tests revealed no sings of degradation in the tested sample. Moreover, mechanical strength values measured by ESA on samples 3D printed with Z-PEEK on the Zortrax Endureal 3D printer were found to be among the highest ever reported in scientific literature.
Consult Zortrax to learn more about Z-PEEK filament and the Zortrax Endureal 3D printer.