3D Printed Thermoplastic Polymers for Bone Replacement


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Azem Yahamed, Pavel Ikonomov, Michael Joyce, Paul D. Fleming and Alexandra Pekarovicova


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Several thermoplastic polymers were 3D printed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and PolyJet(tm) Technology. The samples were printed with specifically designed thicknesses that ranged from 400 mm for the thickest sample down to 16 mm for the thinnest one. There was found great consistency between the thickness and roughness of the printed samples. From the obtained results, the samples produced by the Stratasys 500 Objet Connex3 are smoother than MakerBot replicator 2X and FlashForge Creator Pro, which use FDM technique. It was found that different 3D printing produce different smoothness of the layer at a desired layer thickness. Smoothness of 3D printed layers was monitored using white light interferometry employing a Bruker (Contour GT-K) instrument. Out of all tested devices, the Stratasys Objet 500 Connex3 produced the smoothest 3D printed layers, which is crucial in the human bone replacement field. It was also found that the samples printed at 90deg were smoother than those printed at 45deg, which shows that the print orientation had a significant influence on roughness of the printed layer, but little on its thickness. Solid assemblies as well as structures with internal engineered structure were designed and printed. SolidWorks software was employed to design the internal engineered honeycomb structures with different geometric shapes (hexagonal, triangular, and square) with voids of about 400 microns. Tensile energy of solid and honeycomb structures per unit mass was measured and calculated (tensile strength/density), and it shows that the square PA2200 void structure has almost identical tensile strength as PA 2200 solid structure. The void geometry of the honeycomb structures reduces the amount of material, thus minimizes the weight, cost and construct density of 3D printed features.

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