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Acta Biomater. 2013 Nov;9(10):8593-603. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2013.04.016. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

Novel processing of iron-manganese alloy-based biomaterials by inkjet 3-D printing.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 3700 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The present work provides an assessment of 3-D printed iron-manganese biodegradable scaffolds as a bone scaffold material. Iron-based alloys have been investigated due to their high strength and ability to slowly corrode. Current fabrications of Fe-based materials generate raw material which must be machined into their desired form. By using inkjet 3-D printing, a technique which generates complex, customizable parts from powders mechanically milled Fe-30Mn (wt.%) powder was directly processed into scaffolds. The 3-D printed parts maintained an open porosity of 36.3% and formed a mixed phase alloy of martensitic ε and austenitic γ phases. Electrochemical corrosion tests showed the 3-D printed Fe-Mn to desirably corrode significantly more rapidly than pure iron. The scaffolds exhibited similar tensile mechanical properties to natural bone, which may reduce the risk of stress shielding. Cell viability testing of MC3T3-E1 pre-osteoblast cells seeded directly onto the Fe-Mn scaffolds using the live/dead assay and with cells cultured in the presence of the scaffolds' degradation products demonstrated good in vitro cytocompatibility compared to tissue culture plastic. Cell infiltration into the open pores of the 3-D printed scaffolds was also observed. Based on this preliminary study, we believe that 3-D printed Fe-Mn alloy is a promising material for craniofacial biomaterial applications, and represents an opportunity for other biodegradable metals to be fabricated using this unique method.


3-D inkjet printing; Biodegradable metal; Bone replacement material; Iron–manganese; Porous scaffold

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