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Additive manufacturing to enable tailored, durable titanium dental implants

Researchers are looking to develop more durable, particularly well-fitting titanium dental implants using additive manufacturing (AM).

The implants will be adaptable to each patient, ensure good tolerability and remain functional for a long time. The material being used is Ti6Al-4V, which offers adjustable, graded porosity while offering high strength and corrosion resistance. Its excellent biocompatibility makes the metal useable in many medical applications, such as orthopedic surgery and prostheses. 

To be able to precisely adjust the stiffness of the implant, researchers from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) are using innovative lattice structures.

By varying the lattice structures, the implants can be given different mechanical properties. In doing this the researchers want to adapt the implant to the modulus of elasticity (stiffness) of the human bone, allowing them to develop more resilient and ultimately more durable implants. They will be looking to determine how the mechanical properties of the implants can be adapted to given load scenarios.

The project partners (listed below) will vary not only the lattice structures, but also the process conditions of the laser-based powder bedding process, such as the laser power. The knowledge gained about the influences of the process and geometry parameters on the microstructure, mechanical properties, surface topography, corrosion, and failure properties of the implants, should help the partners to reproducibly manufacture implants in which porosity, surface properties, and microstructure can each be individually and precisely adjusted.

Lattice structures such as those seen here are important to make the implants resilient and durable. (Image: LZH)

The research group, titled ‘Mechanism-based characterization and modeling of permanent and bioresorbable implants with tailored functionality based on innovative in vivo, in vitro and in silico methods’ was initiated by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the end of 2021. The group will initially run for four years with around €3.4 million of funding.

In addition to the LZH, group partners include: TU Dortmund, Reutlingen University, Hannover Medical School, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Rostock University Medical Center and Leibniz University Hannover.

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