Additively manufactured biodegradable porous metals

Yageng Li*, Holger Jahr, Jie Zhou, Amir Abbas Zadpoor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Partially due to the unavailability of ideal bone substitutes, the treatment of large bony defects remains one of the most important challenges of orthopedic surgery. Additively manufactured (AM) biodegradable porous metals that have emerged since 2018 provide unprecedented opportunities for fulfilling the requirements of an ideal bone implant. First, the multi-scale geometry of these implants can be customized to mimic the human bone in terms of both micro-architecture and mechanical properties. Second, a porous structure with interconnected pores possesses a large surface area, which is favorable for the adhesion and proliferation of cells and, thus, bony ingrowth. Finally, the freeform geometrical design of such biomaterials could be exploited to adjust their biodegradation behavior so as to maintain the structural integrity of the implant during the healing process while ensuring that the implant disappears afterwards, paving the way for full bone regeneration. While the AM biodegradable porous metals that have been studied so far have shown many unique properties as compared to their solid counterparts, the unprecedented degree of flexibility in their geometrical design has not yet been fully exploited to optimize their properties and performance. In order to develop the ideal bone implants, it is important to take advantage of the full potential of AM biodegradable porous metals through detailed and systematic study on their biodegradation behavior, mechanical properties, biocompatibility, and bone regeneration performance. This review paper presents the state of the art in AM biodegradable porous metals and is focused on the effects of material type, processing, geometrical design, and post-AM treatments on the mechanical properties, biodegradation behavior, in vitro biocompatibility, and in vivo bone regeneration performance of AM porous Mg, Fe, and Zn as well as their alloys. We also identify a number of knowledge gaps and the challenges encountered in adopting AM biodegradable porous metals for orthopedic applications and suggest some promising areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-50
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Biocompatibility
  • Biodegradation
  • Mechanical property
  • Metal
  • Scaffold


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