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Ultem / PEI (polyetherimide)

Ultem / PEI (polyetherimide)

Ultem / PEI (polyetherimide) is a high-strength amorphous polymer with excellent heat and flame resistance (carrying a flammability rating of 94-V-0) with little smoke output. It performs continuously to 340° F, making it superior to commodity plastics such as Nylon and Delrin. Ultem is an ideal solution for applications that require high strength and the ability to withstand high temperatures. The product also suits applications that require consistent dielectric properties over a wide range of frequencies. Ultem is hydrolysis resistant and highly resistant to acidic solutions and is able to tolerate repeated autoclaving cycles, such as with repeated steam sterilization of reusable medical devices. Ultem is widely used in electronics because of its good arc resistance and dielectric constant. Other typical applications include analytical instrumentation and structural components that require high strength and rigidity at elevated temperatures.

Polyetherimide (PEI) is an amorphous, amber-to-transparent thermoplastic with characteristics similar to the related plastic PEEK. Relative to PEEK, PEI is cheaper, but is lower in impact strength and usable temperature.

Polyether Imide (PEI) - PEI is considered an advanced thermoplastic which has both ether links and imide groups in its polymer chain. Polyether imide has gained rapid acceptance as a high temperature engineering thermoplastic material competitive with the polysulfones, polyphenylene sulfides, and polyketones. Polyether imide exhibits high tensile strength without the use of reinforcement, flame resistance, very low smoke emission, and excellent hydrolytic stability. Because of PEIs high stability, its range of processing is wider than many other thermoplastics.

Ultem is a semi-transparent high temperature plastic material with extremely high strength and stiffness. Ultem is resistant to hot water and steam and can withstand repeated cycles in a steam autoclave. Ultem has outstanding electrical properties and one of the highest dielectric strengths of any commercially available thermoplastic material. Ultem is often used instead of polysulfone when superior strength, stiffness, or temperature resistance is required.

In 1982 General Electric introduced the first polyetherimide (PEI) under the trade name Ultem. They discovered that the presence of the ether linkages was sufficient to allow the material to be melt processible, while retaining many of the key characteristics of polyimides.


ECO Compliant, Lubricated, High Heat Resistance, Good Dimensional Stability, Electrically Conductive, Food Contact Acceptable, Flame Retardant, High Flow, Good Chemical Resistance, High Strength.


Medical/Healthcare Applications, Electrical/Electronic Applications, Automotive Applications, Aerospace Applications, Pharmaceuticals, Household Goods, Metal Replacement, Bearings, Thin-walled Parts, Structural Parts.


 Notch Sensitive, High processing temperatures required, Attacked by strong bases and partially, halogenated solvents, Relatively high material and processing costs, Limited colorability.

ULTEM Polyetherimide resin, PEI, is an amorphous high performance polymer which is characterized by excellent thermal properties, good chemical resistance, inherent flame retardancy and exceptional dimensional stability.


Tableware / Catering

High performance and design flexibility allow ULTEM resin to be used for a wide variety of high quality, reusable food service applications which can be recycled after their service life. Examples are food trays, soup mugs, steam insert pans or gastronorm containers, cloches, microwavable bowls, ovenware, cooking utensils and re-usable airline casseroles.


ULTEM resin provides value added performance for reusable medical devices like sterilization trays, stopcocks, dentist devices and pipettes. The reasons why ULTEM resin can be the right choice for medical applications are:

Full compliance with ISO10993, FDA and USP Class VI· Ability to withstand various sterilization methods like EtO gas, gamma radiation, autoclaving and dry heat· Excellent chemical resistance against most of  the lipids, detergents and disinfectants· ULTEM 1000E transparent grade offers lower residual stress and increased toughness.


The inherently flame retardant ULTEM resin product family is widely used in the aircraft industry in applications like air and fuel valves, food tray containers, steering wheels, interior cladding parts and (semi-)structural components.

Automotive Lighting

The ULTEM resin product family can be a specifically good fit in a heat dominated area like automotive lighting. Typical applications are headlight reflectors, foglight reflectors, bezels and light bulb sockets where ULTEM resin can provide Telecom, Molded Interconnect Devices (MIDs). Its unique plating capabilities make ULTEM resin the material of choice for Telecom and MID applications. ULTEM resin allows the combination of electrical functions with the advantages of injection molded three-dimensional mechanical components in: electrical control units, computer components, mobile phone internal antennae, rf-duplexers or microfilters and fiber optic connectors.

Electrical and Lighting

From connectors to reflectors, ULTEM resin is the material of choice for today’s demanding electrical and lighting applications.

Ultem PolyEtherImide (PEI) is an amber transparent high performance polymer which combines high strength and rigidity at elevated temperatures with long term heat resistance. Ultem offers excellent dimensional stability combined with broad chemical resistance. Ultem is also inherently flame resistant and low smoke generating. It excels in medical reusable applications requiring repeated sterilization and is available in FDA compliant colors.

Key Properties

  • High strength and continuous performance to 340°
  • High dielectric strength
  • Heat and flame resistant
  • High chemical resistance
  • Low smoke output


Ultem 1000

Ultem 1000 is the standard, unfilled grade of Ultem. It is resistant to UV and gamma radiation, performs especially well in hot air and water environments, It's hydrolytically stable retains 85% of its tensile strength after 10,000 hours of immersion in boiling water and 100% of its tensile strength after 2,000 cycles in a steam autoclave at 270°. Ultem 1000 is FDA and USP Class VI compliant and USDA and NSF approved. The standard color is amber.

Ultem 2300

Ultem 2300 is a 30% glass-reinforced grade of Ultem. The addition of glass fiber provides greater tensile strength and rigidity while at the same time improving the product’s dimensional stability. The standard colors are tan and green. The glass reinforcement yields a product with an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and increased tensile strength. This 30% glass-reinforced grade is the most common filled Ultem and is readily available from stock in sheet and rod forms. 

Ultem / PEI (polyetherimide) Pictures