Three-dimensional (3D) printing is increasingly used to produce orthopaedic components for hip arthroplasty, such as acetabular cups, which show complex lattice porous structures and shapes. However, limitations on the quality of the final implants are present; thus, investigations are needed to ensure adequate quality and patients safety. X-ray microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) has been recognised to be the most suitable method to evaluate the complexity of 3D-printed parts. The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability of a micro-CT analysis method comparing it with reference systems, such as coordinate measuring machine and electron microscopy.
3D-printed acetabular components for hip arthroplasty (n = 2) were investigated. Dimensions related to the dense and porous regions of the samples were measured. The micro-CT scanning parameters (voltage – kV, current – µA) were optimised selecting six combinations of beam voltage and current.
Micro-CT showed good correlation and agreement with both coordinate measuring machine and scanning electron microscopy when optimal scanning parameters were selected (130 kV – 100 µA to 180 kV – 80 µA). Mean discrepancies of 50 µm (± 300) and 20 µm (± 60) were found between the techniques for dense and porous dimensions. Investigation method such as micro-CT imaging may help to better understand the impact of 3D printing manufacturing technology on the properties of orthopaedic implants.
The optimisation of the scanning parameters and the validation of this method with reference techniques may guide further analysis of similar orthopaedic components.
The authors are grateful to Dr Francesco Iacoviello for his valuable help during micro-CT data collection. We also thank Dr Tom Gregory of the Institute of Archaeology’s Wolfson Archaeological Science Laboratories for his help with SEM analysis. This research study was funded by The Maurice Hatter Foundation, the RNOH Charity, the Rosetrees Trust and the Stoneygate Trust and supported by researchers at the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre.
Dall’Ava, L., Hothi, H., Henckel, J., Di Laura, A., Bergiers, S., Shearing, P. and Hart, A. (2020), "Dimensional analysis of 3D-printed acetabular cups for hip arthroplasty using X-ray microcomputed tomography", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-06-2019-0175Download as .RIS
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