3D porous Ti6Al4V-beta-tricalcium phosphate scaffolds directly fabricated by additive manufacturing

3D Ti6Al4V-beta-tricalcium phosphate (TCP) hybrid scaffolds with interconnected porous network and controllable porosity and pore size were successfully produced by three-dimensional fiber deposition (3DF). The macrostructure of scaffolds was determined by the 3D design, whereas the micro- and submicron structure were derived from the Ti6Al4V powder sintering and the crystalline TCP powder, respectively.

Ti6Al4V-TCP slurry was developed for 3DF by optimizing the TCP powder size, Ti6Al4V-to-TCP powder ratio and Ti6Al4V-TCP powder content. Moreover, the air pressure and fiber deposition rate were optimized. A maximum achievable ceramic content in the Ti6Al4V-TCP slurry that enables 3DF manufacturing was 10 wt%. The chemical analysis showed that limited contamination occurred during sintering. The compressive strength and Young’s modulus of the scaffolds exhibited values between those of cancellous and cortical bone. The 3D Ti6Al4V-TCP scaffolds with 10 wt% TCP allowed deposition of a calcium phosphate layer on the surface in a simulated body fluid. Cumulative release of calcium and phosphate ions from the scaffolds was observed in a simulated physiological solution, in contrast to a cell culture medium. A pilot in vivo study, in which the scaffolds were implanted intramuscularly in dogs showed ectopic bone formation in the Ti6Al4V-TCP scaffolds with 10 wt% TCP, showing their osteoinductive potential. The porous 3D Ti6Al4V-TCP scaffolds developed here combine the mechanical properties of the metal with the bioactivity of the ceramic and are therefore likely to yield more effective strategies to control the implant-bone interface and thereby improve long-term clinical results in orthopaedics and craniomaxillofacial surgery.