Wolverhampton University & Sussex University explore the possibility of 3D printed silver based implants

Service Engineering

The prospect of 3D printing patient-specific silver-based implants to minimise antimicrobial and infection resistance is being investigated by researchers from Wolverhampton University and Sussex University.

3D printed silver implants and scaffolds for tissue engineering feature complex porous architecture and produce antibacterial defence, ideal for patient-specific tissue regeneration.

“Wolverhampton University & Sussex University explore the possibility of 3D printed silver based implants.“

The team fabricated ninety-nine-point-nine per cent pure silver, in the study, through selective laser melting. To determine the suitability for tissue engineering, the properties of two completely porous bone scaffolds and the resulting silver were investigated.

Staphylococcus aureus was tested against the antimicrobial efficacy of printed silver and led to ninety per cent kill in 240 minutes and ninety-nine-point-nine per cent in fourteen hours. The team clarified that the study also shows that, due to their comparable strength, 3D printed scaffolds of silver can be used as a cancellous bone substitute.

Reader in Additive Manufacturing of Functional Materials, Wolverhampton University, Dr Arun Arjunan, stated: “Millions of people across the world suffer from inflammatory and degenerative diseases associated with bone and joints requiring implants where infection is a serious complication resulting in pain, mortality, prolonged recovery and antimicrobial resistance; therefore, reducing the risk of infection associated with tissue implants requires imminent attention, where pure silver offers enormous potential. Although the idea of using silver as an antibacterial agent is not necessarily new, this research is the first step towards developing 3D printed silver-based infection resistant porous implants. 3D printing patient-specific implants featuring silver is challenging due to the high laser energy dissipation, reflection and complex thermo-mechanical behaviour. Additionally, the printability, mechanical performance and microbial resistance of 3D printed silver have not yet been explored. While the 3D printed pure silver implants might not offer the required structural strength for replacing cortical bone, it can lend itself to the development of hybrid implants that offer antibacterial efficacy without secondary post-processing.”

Dr Chang Wang, Sussex University, stated: “This not only reduces the cost of developing fully porous antibacterial bone scaffolds but also accelerates the bench to bedside development of patient-specific antibacterial implants. Though there are many remaining challenges, reducing the use of antibiotics through the development of multifunctional implants is the future of bone reconstruction.”

See all the latest jobs in Service Engineering
Return to news