Morphology and compression behaviour of biodegradable scaffolds produced by the sintering process

E. Ghassemieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Porous poly(L-lactic acid) (PLA) scaffolds of 85 per cent and 90 per cent porosity are prepared using polymer sintering and porogen leaching method. Different weight fractions of 10 per cent, 30 per cent, and 50 per cent of hydroxyapatite (HA) are added to the PLA to control the acidity and degradation rate. The three-dimensional (3D) morphology and surface porosity are tested using micro-computer tomography (micro-CT), optical microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results indicate that the surface porosity does not change on the addition of HA. The micro-CT examinations show a slight decrease in the pore size and increase in the wall thickness accompanied by reduced anisotropy for the scaffolds containing HA. Scanning electron micrographs show detectable interconnected pores for the scaffold with pure PLA. Addition of the HA results in agglomeration of the HA particles and reduced leaching of the porogen. Compression tests of the scaffold identify three stages in the stress-strain curve. The addition of HA results in a reduction in the modulus of the scaffold at the first stage of elastic bending of the wall, but this is reversed for the second and third stages of collapse of the wall and densification in the compression tests. In the scaffolds with 85 per cent porosity, the addition of a high percentage of HA could result in 70 per cent decrease in stiffness in the first stage, 200 per cent increase in stiffness in the second stage, and 20 per cent increase in stiffness in the third stage. The results of these tests are compared with the Gibson cellular material model that is proposed for prediction of the behaviour of cellular material under compression. The pH and molecular weight changes are tracked for the scaffolds within a period of 35 days. The addition of HA keeps the pH in the alkaline region, which results in higher rate of degradation at an early period of observation, followed by a reduced rate of degradation later in the process. The final molecular weight is higher for the scaffolds with HA than for scaffolds of pure PLA. The manufactured scaffolds offer acceptable properties in terms of the pore size range and interconnectivity of the pores and porosity for non-load-bearing bone graft substitute; however, improvement to the mixing of the phases of PLA and HA is required to achieve better integrity of the composite scaffolds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1247-1262
Number of pages16
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2008

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