Design Enhancement of Biomedical Scaffolds Made By Selective Laser Melting

Speirs, M.
Pyka, G.
Kruth, J.-P.
Luyten, J.
Schrooten, J.
Wevers, M.
Van Humbeeck, J.
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University of Texas at Austin

Selective laser melting (SLM) is increasingly used to fabricate biomedical scaffolds. However, the intrinsic specifications of the process such as laser spot size, layer thickness, and particle size limit the production accuracy, altering the geometrical characteristics and mechanical properties of the scaffolds. This work attempts to assess and improve the mechanical properties of TiAl6V4 biomedical scaffolds by eliminating/modifying the sharp and thin nodes (as the main source of stress concentrations and lowering the mechanical properties). This is carried out through a gradual increase of the beam (strut) thickness around the nodes where corresponding struts meet. The compression performance of these scaffolds was assessed and compared to common examples (unaltered struts) and to scaffolds designed with thicker struts in the centre of the beams (demonstrating the largest contrast). The findings prove that the thickening of the nodal points improves the strain distribution while maintains the mechanical properties at an identical solid volume fraction. This can be used to improve the scaffold design by a gradual strut thickness (in a comparable volume fraction) for an improved bio-mechanical performance.