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Manufacturing of individual biodegradable bone substitute implants using selective laser melting technique



The additive manufacturing technique selective laser melting (SLM) has been successfully proved to be suitable for applications in implant manufacturing. SLM is well known for metal parts and offers direct manufacturing of three-dimensional (3D) parts with high bulk density on the base of individual 3D data, including computer tomography models of anatomical structures. Furthermore, an interconnecting porous structure with defined and reproducible pore size can be integrated during the design of the 3D virtual model of the implant. The objective of this study was to develop the SLM processes for a biodegradable composite material made of β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) and poly(D, L)-lactide (PDLLA). The development of a powder composite material (β-TCP/PDLLA) suitable for the SLM process was successfully performed. The microstructure of the manufactured samples exhibit a homogeneous arrangement of ceramic and polymer. The four-point bending strength was up to 23 MPa. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis of the samples confirmed β-TCP as the only present crystalline phase and the gel permeations chromatography (GPC) analysis documented a degradation of the polymer caused by the laser process less than conventional manufacturing processes. We conclude that SLM presents a new possibility to manufacture individual biodegradable implants made of β-TCP/PDLLA. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A:, 2011.