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J Appl Biomater Biomech. 2003 Jan-Apr;1(1):3-18.

Composite materials for biomedical applications: a review.

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ENEA - Italian Agency for New Technology, Energy and Environment - Materials and Technologies Division, S. Maria di Galeria (Roma) - Italy.


The word ""composite"" refers to the combination, on a macroscopic scale, of two or more materials, different for composition, morphology and general physical properties. In many cases, and depending on the constituent properties, composites can be designed with a view to produce materials with properties tailored to fulfill specific chemical, physical or mechanical requirements. Therefore over the past 40 years the use of composites has progressively increased, and today composite materials have many different applications, i.e., aeronautic, automotive, naval, and so on. Consequently many composite biomaterials have recently been studied and tested for medical application. Some of them are currently commercialized for their advantages over traditional materials. Most human tissues such as bones, tendons, skin, ligaments, teeth, etc., are composites, made up of single constituents whose amount, distribution, morphology and properties determine the final behavior of the resulting tissue or organ. Man-made composites can, to some extent, be used to make prostheses able to mimic these biological tissues, to match their mechanical behavior and to restore the mechanical functions of the damaged tissue. Different types of composites that are already in use or are being investigated for various biomedical applications are presented in this paper. Specific advantages and critical issues of using composite biomaterials are also described (Journal of Applied Bio-materials & Biomechanics 2003; 1: 3-18).


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