The work presented details the results of an investigation into the feasibility of using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) to directly produce customised bioceramic implants. The materials used were bioactive in nature and included a glass-ceramic and a combination of hydroxyapatite and phosphate glass. The glass-ceramic was selected from the range of apatite-mullite materials in the SiO2⋅Al2O3⋅CaO⋅CaF2⋅P2O5 series, due to their potentially suitable biological and mechanical properties. The hydroxyapatite and phosphate glass combination was chosen to allow an alternative production approach to be investigated. The viability of using both these materials with the SLS process was assessed and the process route and resulting material properties characterised using a variety of techniques including Differential Thermal Analysis (DTA), X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).
The results obtained indicate that it was possible to produce multiple layer components from both materials using the SLS process. The glass-ceramic materials could only be processed at very low scan speeds and powers, yielding relatively brittle components. It was though possible to produce parts from the hydroxyapatite and phosphate glass combination across a much wider range of parameters, producing parts which had a greater potential for possible implant production.
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Lorrison, J.C., Dalgarno, K.W. & Wood, D.J. Processing of an apatite-mullite glass-ceramic and an hydroxyapatite/phosphate glass composite by selective laser sintering. J Mater Sci: Mater Med 16, 775–781 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10856-005-2616-3
- Differential Thermal Analysis