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Bioactive ceramics bond to bone and enhance bone formation. However, they have poor mechanical properties which restrict their machinability as well as their application as load bearing implants. The goal of this study was to machine bioactive fixation screws using a silica-calcium phosphate nanocomposite (SCPC50). The effect of compact pressure, holding time, and thermal treatment on the microstructure, machinability, and mechanical properties of SCPC50 cylinders were investigated. Samples prepared by powder metallurgy technique at compact pressure range of 100-300 MPa and treated at 900°C/1 h scored a poor machinability rating of (1/5) due to the significant formation of amorphous silicate phase at the grain boundaries. On the other hand, lowering of compact pressure and sintering temperature to 30 MPa/3 h and 700°C/2 h, respectively, minimized the formation of the amorphous phase and raised the machinability rating to (5/5). The modulus of elasticity and ultimate strength of machinable SCPC50 were 10.8 ± 2.0 GPa and 72.8 ± 22.8 MPa, respectively, which are comparable to the corresponding values for adult human cortical bone. qRT-PCR analyses showed that bone cells attached to SCPC50 significantly upregulated osteocalcin mRNA expression as compared to the cells on Ti-6Al-4V. Moreover, cells attached to SCPC50 produced mineralized bone-like tissue within 8 days. On the other hand, cells attached to Ti-6Al-4V failed to produce bone mineral under the same experimental conditions. Results of the study suggest that machinable SCPC50 has the potential to serve as an attractive new material for orthopedic fixation devices. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Amie Sparnell, Aniket, Ahmed El-Ghannam. Machining of a bioactive nanocomposite orthopedic fixation device. Journal of biomedical materials research. Part B, Applied biomaterials. 2012 Aug;100(6):1545-55

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PMID: 22692822

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