Predicting the Elastic Properties of Selective Laser Sintered PCL/β-TCP Bone Scaffold Materials Using Computational Modelling
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- Doyle, H., Lohfeld, S. & McHugh, P. Ann Biomed Eng (2014) 42: 661. doi:10.1007/s10439-013-0913-4
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This study assesses the ability of finite element (FE) models to capture the mechanical behaviour of sintered orthopaedic scaffold materials. Individual scaffold struts were fabricated from a 50:50 wt% poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL)/β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) blend, using selective laser sintering. The tensile elastic modulus of single struts was determined experimentally. High resolution FE models of single struts were generated from micro-CT scans (28.8 μm resolution) and an effective strut elastic modulus was calculated from tensile loading simulations. Three material assignment methods were employed: (1) homogeneous PCL elastic constants, (2) composite PCL/β-TCP elastic constants based on rule of mixtures, and (3) heterogeneous distribution of micromechanically-determined elastic constants. In comparison with experimental results, the use of homogeneous PCL properties gave a good estimate of strut modulus; however it is not sufficiently representative of the real material as it neglects the β-TCP phase. The rule of mixtures method significantly overestimated strut modulus, while there was no significant difference between strut modulus evaluated using the micromechanically-determined elastic constants and experimentally evaluated strut modulus. These results indicate that the multi-scale approach of linking micromechanical modelling of the sintered scaffold material with macroscale modelling gives an accurate prediction of the mechanical behaviour of the sintered structure.