Composites for bone repair: phosphate glass fibre reinforced PLA with varying fibre architecture
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Internal fixation for bone fractures with rigid metallic plates, screws and pins is a proven operative technique. However, refracture’s have been observed after rigid internal fixation with metal plates and plate fixation has been known to cause localised osteopenia under and near the plate. In the present study, resorbable composites comprising a PLA matrix reinforced with iron doped phosphate glass fibres were investigated. Non-woven random mat laminates of approximately 30% and 45% fibre volume fraction (Vf) were produced, along with unidirectional and 0°–90° samples of approximately 20% Vf. The non-woven composite laminates achieved maximum values of 10 GPa modulus and 120 MPa strength. The 0–90º samples showed unexpectedly low strengths close to matrix value (~50 MPa) although with a modulus of 7 GPa. The UD specimens exhibited values of 130 MPa and 11.5 GPa for strength and modulus respectively. All the modulus values observed were close to that expected from the rule of mixtures. Samples immersed in deionised water at 37°C revealed rapid mechanical property loss, more so for the UD and 0–90º samples. It was suggested that continuous fibres wicked the degradation media into the composite plates which sped up the deterioration of the fibre-matrix interface. The effect was less pronounced in the non-woven random mat laminates due to the discontinuous arrangement of fibres within the composite, making it less prone to wicking. Random mat composites revealed a higher mass loss than the UD and 0°–90° specimens, it was suggested this was due to the higher fibre volume fractions of these composites and SEM studies revealed voidage around the fibres by day 3. Studies of pH of the degradation media showed similar profiles for all the composites investigated. An initial decrease in pH was attributed to the release of phosphate ions into solution followed by a gradual return back to neutral.
KeywordsFlexural Strength Fibre Volume Fraction Flexural Modulus Random Fibre Point Bend Test
The authors would like to kindly acknowledge EPSRC support under EP/E001904/1.
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