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A Locking System for Additively Manufactured Implants: Strength Under Static and Dynamic Load

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Additive manufacturing (AM) enables the manufacture of patient-specific orthopedic implants at a competitive price. Every implant requires a fastening system to rigidly affix components of the implant to bone. While most fixation systems are based on compressing the implant to the bone using a screw, the introduction of locking systems enables the fixation without exerting pressure onto the bone. This allows for fixation to weak bones and can prevent the development of bone porosity underneath the implant. Only a few case studies reported using these advanced locking systems in AM implants. Furthermore, their implementation always comes with additional post-processing steps, which leads to longer manufacturing times and higher cost. Thus, reducing the post-processing needed for these locking plates is of great benefit. This study takes a conventional locking system and recreates it as an AM part. The system is then printed in different orientations to account for orientation-dependent variations. The accuracy of the specimen is compared using a high-resolution X-ray CT and the performance is characterized in terms of mechanical push-out force both in static and dynamic loading conditions.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how smart design can reduce post-processing steps significantly
  • Understand how a conventional technology can be adapted and tested to be used in additive manufacturing
  • Ralf Fischer
    Graduate Research Assistant
    Auburn University