Additively manufactured functionally graded biodegradable porous zinc
Topological design provides additively manufactured (AM) biodegradable porous metallic biomaterials with a unique opportunity to adjust their biodegradation behavior and mechanical properties, thereby satisfying the requirements for ideal bone substitutes. However, no information is available yet concerning the effect of topological design on the performance of AM porous zinc (Zn) that outperforms Mg and Fe in biodegradation behavior. Here, we studied one functionally graded and two uniform AM porous Zn designs with diamond unit cell. Cylindrical specimens were fabricated from pure Zn powder by using a powder bed fusion technique, followed by a comprehensive study on their static and dynamic biodegradation behaviors, mechanical properties, permeability, and biocompatibility. Topological design, indeed, affected the biodegradation behavior of the specimens, as evidenced by 150% variations in biodegradation rate between the three different designs. After in vitro dynamic immersion for 28 days, the AM porous Zn had weight losses of 7–12%, relying on the topological design. The degradation rates satisfied the desired biodegradation time of 1–2 years for bone substitution. The mechanical properties of the biodegraded specimens of all the groups maintained within the range of those of cancellous bone. As opposed to the trends observed for other biodegradable porous metals, after 28 days of in vitro biodegradation, the yield strengths of the specimens of all the groups (σy = 7–14 MPa) increased consistently, as compared to those of the as-built specimens (σy = 4–11 MPa). Moreover, AM porous Zn showed excellent biocompatibility, given that the cellular activities in none of the groups differed from the Ti controls for up to 72 h. Using topological design of AM porous Zn for controlling its mechanical properties and degradation behavior is thus clearly promising, thereby rendering flexibility to the material to meet a variety of clinical requirements.