Mechanical performance of additively manufactured meta-biomaterials

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74 Citations (Scopus)


Additive manufacturing (AM) (=3D printing) and rational design techniques have enabled development of meta-biomaterials with unprecedented combinations of mechanical, mass transport, and biological properties. Such meta-biomaterials are usually topologically ordered and are designed by repeating a number of regular unit cells in different directions to create a lattice structure. Establishing accurate topology-property relationships is of critical importance for these materials. In this paper, we specifically focus on AM metallic meta-biomaterials aimed for application as bone substitutes and orthopaedic implants and review the currently available evidence regarding their mechanical performance under quasi-static and cyclic loading conditions. The topology-property relationships are reviewed for regular beam-based lattice structures, sheet-based lattice structures including those based on triply periodic minimal surface, and graded designs. The predictive models used for establishing the topology-property relationships including analytical and computational models are covered as well. Moreover, we present an overview of the effects of the AM processes, material type, tissue regeneration, biodegradation, surface bio-functionalization, post-manufacturing (heat) treatments, and loading profiles on the quasi-static mechanical properties and fatigue behavior of AM meta-biomaterials. AM meta-biomaterials exhibiting unusual mechanical properties such as negative Poisson's ratios (auxetic meta-biomaterials), shape memory behavior, and superelasitcity as well as the potential applications of such unusual behaviors (e.g. deployable implants) are presented too. The paper concludes with some suggestions for future research. Statement of Significance: Additive manufacturing enables fabrication of meta-biomaterials with rare combinations of topological, mechanical, and mass transport properties. Given that the micro-scale topological design determines the macro-scale properties of meta-biomaterials, establishing topology-property relationships is the central research question when rationally designing meta-biomaterials. The interest in understanding the relationship between the topological design and material type on the one hand and the mechanical properties and fatigue behavior of meta-biomaterials on the other hand is currently booming. This paper presents and critically evaluates the most important trends and findings in this area with a special focus on the metallic biomaterials used for skeletal applications to enable researchers better understand the current state-of-the-art and to guide the design of future research projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-59
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Additively manufactured
  • Fatigue resistance
  • Lattice and cellular structures
  • Mechanical properties


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