Two new biocompatible materials promise to help in the development of a new generation of sanitary devices for implantation and bone tissue regeneration techniques.
The IQS, a research centre in Barcelona and member of the Spanish Project IBE-RM, has created two hidroxiopatita (HA) based powder materials, the aforementioned mineral is quite an abundant within bone composition and widely used in dentistry.
The main innovation is that the new composition will be able to be processed using 3D printers for the Rapid Manufacturing of highly customised pieces.
For this research, the commercial materials used with 3D printers were taken as a reference. At the same time, the processing conditions were determined, such as water content, agglomeration and hydration systems of the organic and inorganic powder materials.
From this data, the samples were designed according to the hardening mechanism of the powder 'sol-gel' so as to demonstrate similar properties to the reference powder.
An important point to take into account was to establish that the printed pieces had bioactivity.
For that, the new material was introduced into a liquid simulating a biological fluid and it was checked that the printed and sinterized samples were able to interchange calcium and phosphate with the saline solution allowing the formation of a HA phase with high activity, which demonstrates a high level of compatibility for applications in biomedicine.
"The research is important as it makes the elaboration of implants and bone tissue regeneration easier according to the geometrical characteristics and other requirements of both, the final user and the professional treating him/her", explains Salvador Borrós, IQS materials expert. "Our main goal was to generate a big enough amount of hidroxiapatita powder to be used in 3D printers."
Further tasks will be to print pieces with the material to be used in "real life" testing. On the other hand, the optimization of the HA sintering temperature will be further researched to achieve the maximum bioactivity.
Rapid Manufacturing technologies allow the achievement of highly customised and geometrically complex prototypes or final pieces from the continuous deposition of layers of metallic or polymeric material.
The IBE-RM project has the challenge of developing a rapid manufacturing technology MADE IN SPAIN. For this purpose, the consortium is counting on the participation of 27 partners, including enterprises, universities and RDT centres.
The research has three action fronts: Rapid Manufacturing technologies, material development, and the implementation of information technologies and communication of productive processing.
The project leader is the Ascamm Foundation, a TECNIO member, which is the network created by ACC1Ó that brings together the Catalonian experts in Technology Transfer. The AIJU Research Centre is leading the Sub-Project 3, devoted to new materials development.
The expected duration of the project is until 2012, with a budget of 3.3 million Euros for the first two years, and it is partially funded by the Spanish Science and Innovation Ministry as well as the European Union within the R+D+i Operative Programme for the benefit of enterprises (Technological Fund) through FEDER funds.