Extrusion-based 3D printing of biodegradable porous iron for bone substitution

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Abstract

The treatment of large bone injuries continues to be challenging partially due to the limited quantity and quality of bone-replacing materials. Iron (Fe) and its alloys have been developed as a group of load-bearing biomaterials. Recent advances in additive manufacturing (AM) have enhanced the potential of Fe-based biomaterials as biodegradable bone substitutes. Firstly, AM Fe-based implants can now be personalized to exactly match the geometry of bony defects. Secondly, AM Fe-based implants with macro- and micro-scale porosities can mimic the mechanical properties of the native bony tissue. The mechanical properties can also be tuned to sustain over the biodegradation period until the new bone tissue takes over their biomechanical function. Finally, AM offers a pathway for in situ or ex situ alloying as well as for other types of multi-material printing to achieve multiple functionalities, such as paramagnetic properties, high rates of biodegradation, and, most importantly, bioactivity (e.g., to induce the osteogenic differentiation of stem cells or to ward off implant-associated infections). This thesis contributes to designing biodegradable Fe-based scaffolds material configurations and developing associated fabrication technology with a focus placed on achieving an appropriate biodegradation rate, paramagnetic behavior, mimicking trabecular bone mechanical properties, and osteogenic all at once.

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