This paper aims to study the influence of the binder saturation level on the accuracy and on the mechanical properties of three-dimensional (3D)-printed scaffolds for bone tissue engineering.
To study the influence of the liquid binder volume on the models accuracy, two quality test plates with different macropore sizes were designed and produced. For the mechanical and physical characterisation, cylindrical specimens were used. The models were printed using a calcium phosphate powder, which was characterised in terms of composition, particle size and morphology, by X-ray diffraction (XRD), laser diffraction and Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis. The sample’s physical characterisation was made using the Archimedes method (porosity), SEM, micro-computer tomography (CT) and digital scan techniques, while the mechanical characterisation was performed by means of uniaxial compressive tests. Strength distribution was analysed using a statistical Weibull approach, and the dependence of the compressive strength on the porosity was discussed.
The saturation level is determinant for the structural characteristics, accuracy and strength the models produced by three-dimensional printing (3DP). Samples printed with the highest saturation showed higher compressive strengths (24 MPa), which are over the human trabecular bone. The models printed with lower saturations presented the highest accuracy and pore interconnectivity.
This study allowed to acquire important knowledge concerning the effects of shell/core saturation on the overall performance of the 3DP. With this information it is possible to devise scaffolds with the required properties for bone scaffold engineering.
This work was sponsored by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) through the PhD scholarship within the company Altakitin S.A, “SFRH/BDE/51454/2011” (M. Castilho) and the project PTDC/EME-TME/103375/2008, “Fabrication of scaffolds with growth factors, for bone tissue regeneration, by 3D printing”.
Castilho, M., Gouveia, B., Pires, I., Rodrigues, J. and Pereira, M. (2015), "The role of shell/core saturation level on the accuracy and mechanical characteristics of porous calcium phosphate models produced by 3Dprinting", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 43-55. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-02-2013-0015
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