Meta-biomaterials offer a promising route towards the development of life-lasting implants. The concept aims to achieve solutions that are ordinarily impossible, by offering a unique combination of mechanical, mass transport, and biological properties through the optimization of their small-scale geometrical and topological designs. In this study, we primarily focus on auxetic meta-biomaterials that have the extraordinary ability to expand in response to axial tension. This could potentially improve the longstanding problem of implant loosening, if their performance can be guaranteed in cyclically loaded conditions. The high-cycle fatigue performance of additively manufactured (AM) auxetic meta-biomaterials made from commercially pure titanium (CP-Ti) was therefore studied. Small variations in the geometry of the re-entrant hexagonal honeycomb unit cell and its relative density resulted in twelve different designs (relative density: ~5–45%, re-entrant angle = 10–25°, Poisson's ratio = -0.076 to -0.504). Micro-computed tomography, scanning electron microscopy and mechanical testing were used to respectively measure the morphological and quasi-static properties of the specimens before proceeding with compression-compression fatigue testing. These auxetic meta-biomaterials exhibited morphological and mechanical properties that are deemed appropriate for bone implant applications (elastic modulus = 66.3–5648 MPa, yield strength = 1.4–46.7 MPa, pore size = 1.3–2.7 mm). With an average maximum stress level of 0.47 σy at 106 cycles (range: 0.35 σyσy- 0.82 σyσy), the auxetic structures characterized here are superior to many other non-auxetic meta-biomaterials made from the same material. The optimization of the printing process and the potential application of post-processing treatments could improve their performance in cyclically loaded settings even further. Statement of Significance: Auxetic meta-biomaterials have a negative Poisson's ratio and, therefore, expand laterally in response to axial tension. Recently, they have been found to restore bone-implant contact along the lateral side of a hip stem. As a result, the bone will be compressed along both of the implant's contact lines, thereby actively reducing the risk of implant failure. In this case the material will be subjected to cyclic loading, for which no experimental data has been reported yet. Here, we present the first ever study of the fatigue performance of additively manufactured auxetic meta-biomaterials based on the re-entrant hexagonal honeycomb. These results will advance the adoption of auxetic meta-biomaterials in load-bearing applications, such as the hip stem, to potentially improve implant longevity.
- Additive manufacturing
- Cyclic loading