The European Ceramic Society
YCN Newsletter 13 : Additive manufacturing of functionally graded ceramic materials by Berfu Goeksel
Since the 1960s, titanium has been the preferred material for dental implants owing to its excellent mechanical and chemical properties.
However, more recently, there is a clear trend towards metal-free implant systems due to concerns with respect to biocompatibility and increasing aesthetic standards. Alumina (Al2O3) and zirconia (ZrO2) are preferred ceramics for long-term implant applications, however, individually they also have limitations regarding the mechanical properties.
Functionally graded materials (FGMs) are multifunctional materials in which the composition and/or structure gradually changes resulting in a corresponding change in the thermal, structural or functional properties of the material. Creating a gradient along the dental implant might be beneficial to overcome monolith implant drawbacks that will allow producing implants with comparable mechanical properties to titanium implants but with better aesthetics.
There are different methods to produce functionally graded materials, but additive manufacturing (AM) allows mass customization of implants with minimum waste. Among the different AM technologies, direct ink writing (DIW, also known as robocasting) allows to produce complex shapes with high precision. DIW is a filament-based technology through which objects are built in a layer-by-layer fashion by extruding a high solid loaded paste through a fine nozzle.
As 3rd year PhD student, I am working on the realization of an application-oriented design for functionally graded Al2O3/ZrO2 ceramic dental implants with high hardness, ageing resistance, damage tolerance, toughness and biocompatibility. To achieve this, there are many challenges to overcome, such as optimizing the ceramic paste formulation, printing strategy, gradient design, printing parameters, and drying-debinding and sintering routes. So far, we were able to successfully create and characterize a paste that is suitable for DIW and print parts with high density. Currently, we are optimizing the different printing and drying parameters along with a compositional gradient design in order to optimize the mechanical properties as required for dental applications.
While I am trying to overcome these challenges, I find it really beneficial to join conferences and workshops to get to know the expertise of other researchers that are facing similar challenges. One of the workshops I thoroughly enjoyed was the ACerS Winter Workshop 2022, where I got the chance to learn and discuss on the scientific topics involved as well as meet professionals in the field. Even though it was a virtual event, it was a very dynamic environment that allowed us to get to know other researchers with similar interests. So, if you have similar interests, are open for a discussion, exchange comments or ventilate questions, feel free to contact me!
KU Leuven, Department of Materials Engineering
Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Group
YCN Newsletter 18 - New YCN Representative call
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