Application of Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) to manufacture porous and functionally graded structures for load bearing implants
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Fabrication of net shape load bearing implants with complex anatomical shapes to meet desired mechanical and biological performance is still a challenge. In this article, an overview of our research activities is discussed focusing on application of Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS™) toward load bearing implants to increase in vivo life time. We have demonstrated that LENS™ can fabricate net shape, complex metallic implants with designed porosities up to 70 vol.% to reduce stress-shielding. The effective modulus of Ti, NiTi, and other alloys was tailored to suit the modulus of human cortical bone by introducing 12–42 vol.% porosity. In addition, laser processed porous NiTi alloy samples show a 2–4% recoverable strain, a potentially significant result for load bearing implants. To minimize the wear induced osteolysis, unitized structures with functionally graded Co–Cr–Mo coating on porous Ti6Al4V were also made using LENS™, which showed high hardness with excellent bone cell–materials interactions. Finally, LENS™ is also being used to fabricate porous, net shape implants with a functional gradation in porosity characteristics.
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