NEFU Explores 3D Printing of biodegradable pins for fracture treatment

Today we’ll discuss not one of the standard composite 3D printers such as the Raise3D E2 CF, but the development of 3D printed pins for fixation of tubular bones from a composite material based on polylactide and hydroxyapatite. It was started by the researchers of the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU).

Polylactide is a biocompatible, biodegradable, thermoplastic lactic acid polymer widely used in extrusion 3D printing (such as FDM). Hydroxyapatite is one of the basic materials in bone and dental enamel. In medicine, synthetic hydroxyapatite is used as a bone filler and material for biocompatible coatings on implants. Scientists believe that bone fixation for fractures with biodegradable pins would be preferable to the use of metal options.

Nina Timofeeva, leading engineer of the educational scientific and technological laboratory “Polymer nanocomposites technologies” of the Institute of Natural Sciences of the NEFU, explained: “Currently, titanium- and steel-based metal posts are widely used in medicine for bone fixation in fractures but this method of fracture treatment involves a surgery to remove the metal structure from the bone after achieving direct bone fusion or fusion with the formation of a bone marrow. Due to the bioresorption property of polylactide, a second surgery to remove the post from the bone will not be necessary due to the decomposition of the polymer in the body. 3D modeling and 3D printing of the pins allow creating objects of almost any shape and size, and the use of hydroxyapatite as a filler will increase the strength of the structure and promote bone healing”.

So far the works are at the early stage: the scientists are studying the properties of the materials and selecting optimal methods of creating composites on their basis. Besides 3D printed pins the scientists of the laboratory “Polymer Nanocomposites Technologies” study the possibility of using polylactide in the production of matrices for dermal equivalents – films seeded with fibroblasts in the treatment of burn wounds. For this research in 2020 Nina Timofeeva won a grant of five hundred thousand rubles from the Program “Clever Man” of the Foundation for Assistance to Innovations.

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