Table of Contents
ISRN Biomaterials
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 750720, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2013/750720
Research Article

Effects of Heat Treatment on the Mechanical and Degradation Properties of 3D-Printed Calcium-Sulphate-Based Scaffolds

1School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Queen's University Belfast, Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5AH, UK
2School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BP, UK

Received 20 August 2012; Accepted 23 September 2012

Academic Editors: F. Feyerabend, C. Galli, D. Letourneur, and X. Wang

Copyright © 2013 Zuoxin Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Three-dimensional printing (3DP) has been employed to fabricate scaffolds with advantages of fully controlled geometries and reproducibility. In this study, the scaffold structure design was established through investigating the minimum feature size and powder size distribution. It was then fabricated from the 3DP plaster-based powders (CaSO4·1/2H2O). Scaffolds produced from this material demonstrated low mechanical properties and a rapid degradation rate. This study investigated the effects of heat treatment on the mechanical and in vitro degradation properties of the CaSO4 scaffolds. The occurrence of dehydration during the heating cycle offered moderate improvements in the mechanical and degradation properties. By using a heat treatment protocol of 200°C for 30 min, compressive strength increased from 0.36 ± 0.13 MPa (pre-heat-treated) to 2.49 ± 0.42 MPa (heat-treated). Heat-treated scaffolds retained their structure and compressive properties for up to two days in a tris-buffered solution, while untreated scaffolds completely disintegrated within a few minutes. Despite the moderate improvements observed in this study, the heat-treated CaSO4 scaffolds did not demonstrate mechanical and degradation properties commensurate with the requirements for bone-tissue-engineering applications.