3D powder printed tetracalcium phosphate scaffold with phytic acid binder: fabrication, microstructure and in situ X-Ray tomography analysis of compressive failure
One of the important aspects in 3D powder printing (3DPP) is the selection of binder for a specific material composition to produce scaffolds with desired microstructure and physico-chemical properties. To this end, a new powder-binder combination, namely tetracalcium phosphate (TTCP) and phytic acid (IP6) was investigated at ambient temperature, for low load bearing application. A minimal deviation (<200 µm, w.r.t. computer aided design) was observed in the final sample through optimization of 3DPP process, along with minimum strut and macro-pore size of 200 and 750 µm, respectively. Importantly, the printed scaffolds exhibited compressive strength of 4–8.5 MPa (in the range of cancellous bone) and in vitro dissolution experiments in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) upto one month revealed gradual degradation in strength property. The TTCP scaffolds are characterized to be moderately porous (~40%) with high interconnectivity, which is essential for vascularization and good osteoconductivity. Another major aim of this study was to demonstrate the failure mechanism of 3D powder-printed scaffolds using monotonic and intermittent compression coupled with micro-computed tomography (µCT) imaging. Analyzing these results, we have demonstrated the origin of crack generation and propagation under compressive loading in relation to the unique microstructure, obtained through 3DPP. These findings enable us to acquire a deeper insight of the relationship between structural attributes and failure behavior, to further tailor the 3D powder printing process for ceramic biomaterials.
The authors are grateful for financial support from DAAD (German Academic Fellowship Program), the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India), Department of Science and Technology (Government of India), (Centre of Excellence and Innovation in Biotechnology) scheme through the Centre of Excellence project—Translational Centre on Biomaterials for Orthopedic and Dental Applications. Mr. Sourav Mandal also acknowledges the support received from co-workers in FMZ, Wuerzburg, Dr. Rémi Blanc in assisting the image processing part, Dr. Ravikumar Krishnamurthy for fruitful discussions and Dr. Yashoda Chandorkar for the help in learning the in situ µCT experiments.
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