Technological watch

3D?Printed Polyetheretherketone Smart Polymer Nanocomposite Scaffolds: Mechanical, Self?Sensing, and Biological Attributes

This study underscores the remarkable mechanical, self?sensing, and biological characteristics of 3D?printed polyetheretherketone composite scaffolds integrated with nanocarbon. Showcasing consistent mechanical and self?sensing capabilities across 500 cycles, the scaffold displays resilience to repetitive loading. Additionally, the biological assessment highlights the scaffold's outstanding cytocompatibility and ability to facilitate cell differentiation, indicating promising advancements in cutting?edge orthopedic smart implants.This study demonstrates the mechanical, self?sensing, and biological characteristics of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs)?engineered 3D?printed polyetheretherketone (PEEK) composite scaffolds, utilizing custom?made feedstocks. Microstructural analysis and macroscale testing reveal that the PEEK/CNT scaffolds with 6?wt% CNT content and 46% relative density achieve a gauge factor of up to 75, a modulus of 0.64?GPa, and a compressive strength of 64?MPa. The PEEK/CNT2.5/GNP2.5 scaffolds evince still better performance, at a relative density of 73%, reporting a modulus of up to 1.1?GPa and a compressive strength of 122?MPa. Importantly, stability in mechanical and piezoresistive performance up to 500 cycles is noted, indicating a durable and reliable performance under cyclic loading. Murine preosteoblast cells (MC3T3?E1) are used to biologically characterize sulfonated scaffolds over 14?days. Cytotoxicity, DNA, and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels are quantified through in?vitro assays, evaluating cell viability, proliferation, and osteogenic properties. Notably, PEEK/CNT 6?wt% scaffolds exhibit nearly 80% cytocompatibility, while PEEK/CNT2.5/GNP2.5 scaffolds reach nearly 100%. Both types of scaffolds support cell differentiation, as evidenced by elevated ALP levels. These findings carry significant promise in bone tissue engineering, paving the way for the development of adaptive, intelligent structural implants boasting enhanced biocompatibility and self?sensing capabilities.

Publication date: 02/02/2024

Author: Johannes Schneider, Srijani Basak, Yanan Hou, Joseph H. Koo, Brian L. Wardle, Nikolaj Gadegaard, Shanmugam Kumar

Advanced Engineering Materials


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.