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Next generation of 3D multifunctional materials and coatings for biomedical applications

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NEXT-3D (Next generation of 3D multifunctional materials and coatings for biomedical applications)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-05-31

In the biomedical field, 3D metallic and ceramic structures have been widely used succesfully. One of the main issues is multifucntionality and consistency in the properties of materials. One way of manufacturing 3D structures is 3D printing. The main aim of NEXT-3D was to develop the next generation multifunctional 3D printed and coated materials for orthopaedic and dental implant applications. Multifunctional materials with drug delivery and antimicrobial properties are desirable by clinicians. Research was conducted following a multi and inter-disciplinary research methodology designed to develop innovative biomedical materials using advanced processing technologies (e,g. 3D laser printing and sintering and advanced coating) with market potential. The consortium hope that the research and related innovative programme will lead to the advancement of knowledge in the field and to new materials with superior properties.

The overall objectives of the project were:

1. To develop a clear understanding of the basic material physics of 3D laser printing and the effect on the properties of materials.

2. To develop defect free, 3D laser printing processes for metals, polymers and ceramics and understand the effect on the properties and functionality of materials.

3. To create customised and accurate shapes and architectures by 3D printing technology and apply this knowledge to the development of multi-functional coatings for maxillofacial and orthopaedic implants.

4. To explore different ways to achieve multi-functionality by investigating the use of novel antimicrobial molecules and drug release devices with additional anti-inflammatory and analgesic functionalities.

5. To create fast and inexpensive innovative multifunctional medical devices with market potential.

6. To form and retain collaborations in a multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and international environment.

7. To effectively transfer knowledge and implement strong synergies and interactions among the participants by organising video conferences, secondments and a mini symposium at the end of the project.

8. To disseminate the scientific knowledge resulted by the combination of the effective training and research collaboration among the participants with the wider European and international scientific community by the organisation of the mini symposium at the end of NEXT-3D


The work plan consisted of five work packages:

WP1: Development of 3D laser printing and sintering of metallic surfaces with multifunctional coatings

WP2: Development of 3D laser printing ceramic surfaces with antibacterial properties

WP3: Development of multifunctional thin polymer films (drug delivery, antimicrobial properties)

WP4: Development of a multifunctional surfaces for dental implants, hip and knee prostheses

WP5: In vitro testing of produced multifunctional implants
Peptite coating on the titanium although had problems at the earlier stages, the final coatings were very successful. The work involved UK Birmingham group and the UTS life sciences groups. A paper is under preparation on the in vitro studies. Antimicrobial drug release composite coatings have also been developed. Optimisation of novel antimicrobial molecules and drug release devices with additional anti-inflammatory and analgesic functionalities was also carried out and a composite material was developed for applications in dentistry, neural prostheses and orthopaedics.

Key areas of work included work carried out at UTS in collaboration with BRESMED and UoB focused on nanoindentation and scratch testing of Ti6Al4V-PLA–HAP biocomposite antimicrobial coatings for implant applications, work conducted at UoB focused on Titania gel peptide adsorption and biomimetic hydroxyapatite formation, and work at UTS to look at controlled in-vitro drug release antimicrobial composite coatings for the dental, neural prostheses and orthopaedic applications.

3D printing using equipment in BRESMED Australia and France and UK involved both metallic and ceramic implants. Metals analysed were titanium and cobalt chromium alloys and the ceramics were alumina, zirconia (PSZ) ceramics and hydroxyapatite. Advancement of the 3D printed hydroxyapatite is a major breakthrough due to the problems encountered during 3D printing process. A paper was published in the Journal of the Australian Ceramic society and another is under preparation.

Poly lactic acid with hydroxyapatite particles that can carry the drugs was another excellent achievement of the project. Coatings of these composites on dental and orthopaedic implants proved to be very promising.
Direct 3D laser printing of hydroxyapatite was successfuly achieved in BRESMED Australia through common efforts from all the consortium and through a continuous and systematic study of materials. Multifunctionality was also achieved with the use of specially designed peptides. Emphasis was given on the interactions of metallic surfaces (including surfaces that were 3D printed and surfaces that were not 3D printed) with organic short peptides. We looked at the micro and nanoscale using some specialised characterisation equipment and we were able to identify viable interactions. Based on the studies, coatings were designed that could potentially provide both antimicrobial action as well as delivery of drugs (in our case antibiotics).

The project facilitates continuous international collaboration and provides the basis for the development of strong links between universities as well as between universities and industry. As one of the main objectives of the project is to create materials that will have market potential, the project has significant societal implications as these materials will improve the quality of life of patients with complicated orthopeadic infections. One of the beneficiaries is a team of clinician orthopeadics who benefit from the exposure to materials research and vice versa. The developments in the project have also been marked by current orthopeadic methods to handle infections and everyone in the consortium worked closely with the clinicians and developed clear understanding of what is required from the new materials. We hope that in future, and due to lasting collaboration between consortium members that at least two medical devices will be created after the life of the project. Members of the consortium have been successful in applying for funding for the continuation of research in the area of 3D printing of ceramics (DOC-3D Printing, Marie Curie ETN 2018-2022).

During this period of the project, a number of ideas were also discussed that will lead to the development of a potential diagnostic device for orthopaedic infections.