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Med Eng Phys. 2010 Jul;32(6):645-52. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2010.04.003. Epub 2010 May 6.

In vitro biocompatibility of titanium alloy discs made using direct metal fabrication.

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  • 1Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Custom orthopedic implants may be generated using free-form fabrication methods (FFF) such as electron beam melting (EBM). EBM FFF may be used to make solid metal implants whose surface is often polished using CNC machining and porous scaffolds that are usually left unpolished. We assessed the in vitro biocompatibility of EBM titanium-6 aluminum-4 vanadium (Ti6Al4V) structures by comparing the cellular response to solid polished, solid unpolished, and porous EBM discs to the cellular response to discs made of commercially produced Ti6Al4V. The discs were seeded with 20,000 human adipose-derived adult stem cells (hASCs) and assessed for cell viability, proliferation, and release of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL-8). Cell viability was assessed with Live/Dead staining 8 days after seeding. Cell proliferation was assessed using alamarBlue assays at days 0, 1, 2, 3, and 7. The hASCs were alive on all discs after 8 days. Cellular proliferation on porous EBM discs was increased at days 2, 3, and 7 compared to discs made of commercial Ti6Al4V. Cellular proliferation on porous EBM discs was also increased compared to solid polished and unpolished EBM discs. IL-6 and IL-8 releases at day 7 were lower for porous EBM discs than for other discs. Solid polished, unpolished, and porous EBM Ti6Al4V discs exhibited an acceptable biocompatibility profile compared to solid Ti6Al4V discs from a commercial source. EBM FFF may be considered as an option for the fabrication of custom orthopedic implants.

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