A New Race in Material Science

Irving Karonen
3 min readFeb 5, 2024

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Elon Musk, a prominent figure in the tech world, has once again demonstrated his remarkable ability to influence the market with the latest showcase of Tesla’s second-generation humanoid robot, Optimus-Gen2. This version boasts significant improvements over its predecessor, including a 10% reduction in weight, which has sparked widespread interest in the market. Analysts speculate that this weight reduction might be due to the use of PEEK polymer materials, leading to a surge in the stocks related to PEEK materials. This enthusiasm has been mirrored in both primary and secondary markets, with leading institutions having already invested in companies involved with PEEK.

PEEK, or Polyether Ether Ketone, is a high-performance engineering thermoplastic known for its outstanding properties, such as high heat resistance, radiation resistance, corrosion resistance, excellent dimensional stability, and electrical properties. It is also easy to mold and machine, making it a top choice for engineering plastics. PEEK’s strength is approximately eight times that of aluminum alloys, with only a third of the density, allowing for significant weight reduction in applications that meet strength requirements. This makes it a suitable replacement for traditional materials like copper alloys, stainless steel, PTFE, PPS, and other engineering plastics, especially in high-end manufacturing sectors like new energy vehicles and humanoid robots, earning it the nickname “industrial weight loss drug.”

Institutions like Sequoia China have recognized the potential of PEEK materials early on, investing in companies like INTAMSYS, a provider of complete 3D printing solutions using PEEK. Over the past few years, INTAMSYS has completed five rounds of financing, attracting investments from significant players such as China Merchants International Capital, Porsche, Guangyuan Capital, and the XBOTPARK fund initiated by Li Zexiang.

PEEK materials have found widespread applications in burgeoning sectors such as new energy vehicles, robotics, commercial aerospace, 3D printing, and healthcare, marking them as hotly contested fields in recent years. The robotics industry, in particular, has seen a pivotal moment over the past year, with new products emerging and commercialization processes accelerating, thanks to the push from AI technologies. Similarly, industries like new energy vehicles and 3D printing have also seen significant development and attention in 2023.

However, despite the growing interest in PEEK materials, many institutions remain hesitant to invest. The primary concerns include whether investing in PEEK materials provides enough imaginative potential for VC/PE firms and the risk associated with the lengthy period from research and development to commercialization. Understanding the challenges surrounding PEEK materials, it’s noteworthy that scaling production capabilities for PEEK can take approximately seven years, with an additional three to five years required for downstream customer certification and development cycles. This implies that the journey from research and development to commercial application could span a decade, surpassing the lifespan of most investment funds.

This extended timeline poses a challenge for investors, as it may dilute potential returns and introduce risks associated with exit strategies. Despite these hurdles, the consensus among investors and entrepreneurs is firm: PEEK materials are recognized as a promising and innovative direction and the potential of PEEK materials is a promising blue ocean opportunity.

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Irving Karonen

Web3 enthusiast, Entrepreneur, Scientist, and Financial Engineer. Sharing Frontlines of Innovation and Investments. Biz: irving.karonen@gmail.com