by Keyword: Ceramics particles

del-Mazo-Barbara L, Johansson L, Tampieri F, Ginebra M-P, (2024). Toughening 3D printed biomimetic hydroxyapatite scaffolds: Polycaprolactone-based self-hardening inks Acta Biomaterialia 177, 506-524

The application of 3D printing to calcium phosphates has opened unprecedented possibilities for the fabrication of personalized bone grafts. However, their biocompatibility and bioactivity are counterbalanced by their high brittleness. In this work we aim at overcoming this problem by developing a self-hardening ink containing reactive ceramic particles in a polycaprolactone solution instead of the traditional approach that use hydrogels as binders. The presence of polycaprolactone preserved the printability of the ink and was compatible with the hydrolysis-based hardening process, despite the absence of water in the ink and its hydrophobicity. The microstructure evolved from a continuous polymeric phase with loose ceramic particles to a continuous network of hydroxyapatite nanocrystals intertwined with the polymer, in a configuration radically different from the polymer/ceramic composites obtained by fused deposition modelling. This resulted in the evolution from a ductile behavior, dominated by the polymer, to a stiffer behavior as the ceramic phase reacted. The polycaprolactone binder provides two highly relevant benefits compared to hydrogel-based inks. First, the handleability and elasticity of the as-printed scaffolds, together with the proven possibility of eliminating the solvent, opens the door to implanting the scaffolds freshly printed once lyophilized, while in a ductile state, and the hardening process to take place inside the body, as in the case of calcium phosphate cements. Second, even with a hydroxyapatite content of more than 92 wt.%, the flexural strength and toughness of the scaffolds after hardening are twice and five times those of the all-ceramic scaffolds obtained with the hydrogel-based inks, respectively. Statement of significance: Overcoming the brittleness of ceramic scaffolds would extend the applicability of synthetic bone grafts to high load-bearing situations. In this work we developed a 3D printing ink by replacing the conventional hydrogel binder with a water-free polycaprolactone solution. The presence of polycaprolactone not only enhanced significantly the strength and toughness of the scaffolds while keeping the proportion of bioactive ceramic phase larger than 90 wt.%, but it also conferred flexibility and manipulability to the as-printed scaffolds. Since they are able to harden upon contact with water under physiological conditions, this opens up the possibility of implanting them immediately after printing, while they are still in a ductile state, with clear advantages for fixation and press-fit in the bone defect. © 2024 The Authors

JTD Keywords: 3-d printing, 3d printing, 3d-printing, Binders, Biocompatibility, Biomimetic hydroxyapatites, Biomimetics, Bone cement, Bone scaffolds, Brittleness, Calcium phosphate, Ceramic phase, Ceramic scaffolds, Ceramics particles, Fracture mechanics, Hardening, Hardening process, Hydrogels, Hydroxyapatite, Mechanical properties, Plasticity, Polycaprolactone, Scaffolds, Scaffolds (biology), Self hardening, Strength and toughness