Additively manufactured (AM) functionally graded porous metallic biomaterials offer unique opportunities to satisfy the contradictory design requirements of an ideal bone substitute. However, no functionally graded porous structures have ever been 3D-printed from biodegradable metals, even though biodegradability is crucial both for full tissue regeneration and for the prevention of implant-associated infections in the long term. Here, we present the first ever report on AM functionally graded biodegradable porous metallic biomaterials. We made use of a diamond unit cell for the topological design of four different types of porous structures including two functionally graded structures and two reference uniform structures. Specimens were then fabricated from pure iron powder using selective laser melting (SLM), followed by experimental and computational analyses of their permeability, dynamic biodegradation behavior, mechanical properties, and cytocompatibility. It was found that the topological design with functional gradients controlled the fluid flow, mass transport properties and biodegradation behavior of the AM porous iron specimens, as up to 4-fold variations in permeability and up to 3-fold variations in biodegradation rate were observed for the different experimental groups. After 4 weeks of in vitro biodegradation, the AM porous scaffolds lost 5–16% of their weight. This falls into the desired range of biodegradation rates for bone substitution and confirms our hypothesis that topological design could indeed accelerate the biodegradation of otherwise slowly degrading metals, like iron. Even after 4 weeks of biodegradation, the mechanical properties of the specimens (i.e., E = 0.5–2.1 GPa, σy = 8–48 MPa) remained within the range of the values reported for trabecular bone. Design-dependent cell viability did not differ from gold standard controls for up to 48 h. This study clearly shows the great potential of AM functionally graded porous iron as a bone substituting material. Moreover, we demonstrate that complex topological design permits the control of mechanical properties, degradation behavior of AM porous metallic biomaterials. Statement of Significance: No functionally graded porous structures have ever been 3D-printed from biodegradable metals, even though biodegradability is crucial both for full tissue regeneration and for the prevention of implant-associated infections in the long term. Here, we present the first report on 3D-printed functionally graded biodegradable porous metallic biomaterials. Our results suggest that topological design in general, and functional gradients in particular can be used as an important tool for adjusting the biodegradation behavior of AM porous metallic biomaterials. The biodegradation rate and mass transport properties of AM porous iron can be increased while maintaining the bone-mimicking mechanical properties of these biomaterials. The observations reported here underline the importance of proper topological design in the development of AM porous biodegradable metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-661
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Additive manufacturing, Biocompatibility, Biodegradation, Functionally graded material, Mechanical properties, Permeability

ID: 55511944