Solid Freeform Fabrication of Porous Calcium Polyphosphate Structures for Use in Orthopaedics
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The focus of this dissertation is on the development of a solid freeform fabrication (SFF) process for the design and manufacture of porous biodegradable orthopaedic implants from calcium polyphosphate (CPP). Porous CPP structures are used as bone substitutes for regenerating bone defects and/or as substrates in formation of so-called “biphasic” implants for repair of damaged osteochondral tissues. The CPP implants can be utilized in the treatment of many musculoskeletal diseases, osteochondral defects, and bone tumours while replacement of the defect site is required. In this study, the fabrication of CPP structures was developed through a powder-based SFF technique known as adhesive bonding 3D-printing. SFF is an advanced alternative to the “conventional” fabrication method consisting of gravity sintering of CPP pre-forms followed by machining to final form, as SFF enables rapid manufacturing of complex-shaped bio-structures with controlled internal architecture. To address the physical and structural properties of the porous SFF-made components, they were characterized using scanning electron microscopy, micro-CT scanning and mercury intrusion porosimetry. Specific surface area and permeability of the porous structures were also determined. Additionally, the chemical properties (crystallinity) of the specimens were identified by X-ray diffraction. The mechanical properties of the crystalline CPP material were also measured by micro- and nano-indentation. Moreover, the porous structures were tested by uniaxial and diametral mechanical compression to determine the compressive and tensile strengths, respectively. Furthermore, the effect of the stacked-layer orientation on the mechanical properties of the SFF-made constructs was investigated through the production of samples with horizontal or vertical stacked-layers. The properties of the SFF-made samples were compared with those of the conventionally-made CPP constructs. The SFF-made implants showed drastically higher compressive mechanical strength compared to the conventionally-formed samples with identical porosity. It was also shown that the orientation of the stacked-layer has substantial influence on the mechanical strengths. Moreover, this thesis examined the ability of in vitro forming of cartilaginous tissue on the SFF-made substrates where the chondrocytes cellular response to the CPP implants was evaluated histologically and biochemically. In addition, an initial in vivo assessment of the CPP structures as bone substitutes was conducted using a rabbit medial femoral site model. Significant amount of new-bone was formed within the CPP porous constructs during the 6-week implantation period demonstrating appropriate biological response of SFF-made CPP structures for bone substitute applications. Another accomplishment of this thesis was the development of a mathematical model which predicts the compact density of powder layers spread by a counter-rotating roller in the SFF technique. The results may be used in the control of the apparent density of the final implant. The potential of the developed SFF method as an efficient and reproducible technique for the production of porous CPP structures for use in orthopaedics and musculoskeletal tissue regenerative applications was concluded.