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Bioresorbable metal powders for additive manufacturing | Application note

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Bioresorbable metal powders for additive manufacturing

Bioresorbable materials for additive manufacturing represent an innovative area in materials science and engineering  combined with biomedical engineering for novel treatment routes of patients. Bioresorbable metals are designed to degrade safely within the body over time, eventually being absorbed without causing harm or toxicity. When used in additive manufacturing these metals can be shaped into complex, patient-specific implant with precision. Combining lattice structures obtained by laser powder bed fusion with the unique properties of bioresorbable materials that can safely dissolve in the body after fulfilling their purpose results in demand for new alloy for bone growth and regeneration applications. This scientific discipline has significant implications for the medical field, particularly in developing implants and devices designed to support tissue regeneration, deliver drugs, or stabilize structures temporarily without the need for surgical removal.

What is the main element of bioresorbable alloys?

The most commonly researched bioresorbable metals for this purpose include magnesium, iron, and zinc alloys. Each of these metals has been studied for its biocompatibility, degradation rate, and mechanical properties:

  • Magnesium and its alloys are known for their relatively fast degradation rates and good biocompatibility, making them suitable for applications where temporary support is needed.
  • Iron-based alloys degrade more slowly than magnesium, offering a longer support timeframe but with the challenge of controlling the degradation rate to avoid adverse effects.
  • Zinc and its alloys present a middle ground, with moderate degradation rates and promising biocompatibility profiles.

Check out our research paper concerning novel Mg alloy modified with lithium.

Applications of bioresorbable metal powders

The main applications of bioresorbable additively manufactured elements are:

  • Orthopedic implants, such as screws and plates for bone fracture stabilization, that can be designed to degrade once the bone has healed, eliminating the need for a second surgery.
  • Stents for vascular surgery can be made to support reopened vessels until they are stable, then degrade to restore natural flow.
  • Tissue engineering scaffolds can be created to support the growth of new tissue, then dissolve to leave only the newly formed tissue in place.

3D-BioMg project

Amazemet is currently involved in 3D-BioMg polish-turkish bilateral project (financed by The National Centre for Research and Development) in which we develop new magnesium-based alloy in form of spherical powders for additive manufacturing using ultrasonic atomization.

Achieving the goals of the project will be the first step to implement a new generation of biodegradable as well as bioresorbable implants and scaffolds that facilitate bone fracture treatment procedures, which are the common health threat to society. The subject of the project will be to develop a novel biodegradable magnesium-zinc-zirconium alloy via advanced manufacturing routes that combine additive manufacturing by laser powder bed fusion and post-processing treatments to replace currently used titanium-based permanent implants. Biodegradable Mg implants can eliminate long-term adverse reactions and revision operations associated with permanent implants. However, their degradation under physiological conditions (in vitro tests) is too fast. High purity Mg exhibits a much lower corrosion rate but its strength is inadequate for most applications. Our approach is to use additive manufacturing technique, add alloying elements by ultrasonic atomization, and apply different routes of postprocessing in order to stabilize the corrosion rate and enhance mechanical properties, like Young modules which should be as close as possible to bone parameters to avoid stress-shielding effect and consequently bone degradation. The solution to the problem involved in the project may directly lead to the development and implementation of a new generation of short-term orthopedic implants that do not require removal from the human body after a long period of bone growth.

Challenges in the project

Despite the promising aspects of bioresorbable metal powders for additive manufacturing, several challenges remain:

Control of degradation rate: Ensuring that the metal degrades at a rate that aligns with the healing process or the intended timeframe for support is critical.

Material properties: Balancing strength, flexibility, and biocompatibility in a material that is also meant to degrade poses unique material science challenges.

Manufacturing complexities: Additive manufacturing of bioresorbable metals requires precise control over processing conditions to maintain the desired material properties and product quality.

Regulatory and clinical testing: Extensive testing and regulatory approval are necessary to ensure the safety and efficacy of these materials in medical applications, which can be time-consuming and costly. Difficulties concerning magnesium and zinc alloys in laser powder bed fusion are related to fume generation. Our Aconity MIDI system is equipped with “Controlled Volume Flow of Fume Extraction” which allows to overcome such challenges.

Future Directions for bioresorbable metal powders

Research in the field of bioresorbable metal powders for additive manufacturing continues to advance, with ongoing exploration into new materials, and manufacturing techniques to address current challenges. Innovations in this area hold the promise of revolutionizing patient care by providing more personalized, effective, and less invasive treatment options. As the technology matures, we can expect to see an increase in the number and variety of bioresorbable metal-based medical devices, opening new horizons in medical treatment and recovery.

Are you in need of bioresorbable metal powders?

EXPERTS READY TO HELP ​

Picture of <b>JAKUB CIFTCI</b>

JAKUB CIFTCI

APPLICATION ENGINEER

I am an application engineer focused on laser powder bed fusion development with alloys obtained via ultrasonic atomization. My role is to use knowledge gained from my PhD studies at Warsaw University of Technology to help other researchers in their projects with AMAZEMET solutions. Always ready for new challenges for concerning hard-to-print high temperature alloys and their atomization via rePOWDER.

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Metal Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing 101
Additive Manufacturing is a process of creating objects by adding material layer by layer, in contrast to traditional subtractive methods that remove material from a solid block. Metal Additive Manufacturing specifically involves the use of hard-to-machine metals to produce parts and components using bottom-up approach. This method allows for greater design flexibility, material efficiency, and the production of complex geometries that would be impossible or extremely difficult with conventional manufacturing techniques.
Metal Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing 101
Additive Manufacturing is a process of creating objects by adding material layer by layer, in contrast to traditional subtractive methods that remove material from a solid block. Metal Additive Manufacturing specifically involves the use of hard-to-machine metals to produce parts and components using bottom-up approach. This method allows for greater design flexibility, material efficiency, and the production of complex geometries that would be impossible or extremely difficult with conventional manufacturing techniques.

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