Additively manufactured (AM) biodegradable metals with topologically ordered porous structures hold unprecedented promise as potential bone substitutes. The first reports on this type of biomaterials have just recently appeared in the literature. There is, however, no information available in the literature regarding their mechanical performance under cyclic loading or the interactions between biodegradation and cyclic loading. We therefore used selective laser melting (SLM) to fabricate porous magnesium alloy (WE43) scaffolds based on diamond unit cells. The microstructure of the resulting material was examined using electron back-scattered diffraction, scanning transmission electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction. The fatigue behaviors of the material in air and in revised simulated body fluid (r-SBF) were evaluated and compared. Biodegradation decreased the fatigue strength of the porous material from 30% to 20% of its yield strength. Moreover, cyclic loading significantly increased its biodegradation rate. The mechanistic aspects of how biodegradation and cyclic loading interacted with each other on different scales were revealed as well. On the micro-scale, cracks initiated at biodegradation pits and propagated transgranularly. In addition, dislocations became more tangled after the fatigue tests. On the macro-scale, cracks preferred initiating at the strut junctions where tensile stress concentrations were present, as revealed by the finite element analysis of the porous material under compressive loading. Most of the cracks initiated in the struts were positioned on the periphery of the specimens. Furthermore, the biodegradation pattern was found to be location-dependent with more localized biodegradation occurring in the center of the specimens. Further improvements in the biodegradation-affected fatigue performance of the AM porous Mg alloy may therefore be realized by optimizing both the topological design of the porous structure and the laser-processing parameters that determine the microstructure of the SLM porous material.
- Additive manufacturing
- Selective laser melting