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Fortifying the Bone-Implant Interface Part 1: An In Vitro Evaluation of 3D-Printed and TPS Porous Surfaces

Regina F. MacBarb, PhD­,1 Derek P. Lindsey, MS,Chelsea S. Bahney, PhD,Shane A. Woods, MS,Mark L. Wolfe, BS,Scott A. Yerby, PhD1

1SI-BONE, Inc., San Jose, CA, USA, 2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA, 3MPI Research, Mattawan, MI, USA



An aging society and concomitant rise in the incidence of impaired bone health have led to the need for advanced osteoconductive spinal implant surfaces that promote greater biological fixation (e.g. for interbody fusion cages, sacroiliac joint fusion implants, and artificial disc replacements). Additive manufacturing, i.e. 3D-printing, may improve bone integration by generating biomimetic spinal implant surfaces that mimic bone morphology. Such surfaces may foster an enhanced cellular response compared to traditional implant surfacing processes.


This study investigated the response of human osteoblasts to additive manufactured (AM) trabecular-like titanium implant surfaces compared to traditionally machined base material with titanium plasma spray (TPS) coated surfaces, with and without a nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite (HA) coating. For TPS-coated discs, wrought Ti6Al4V ELI was machined and TPS-coating was applied. For AM discs, Ti6Al4V ELI powder was 3D-printed to form a solid base and trabecular-like porous surface. The HA-coating was applied via a precipitation dip-spin method. Surface porosity, pore size, thickness, and hydrophilicity were characterized. Initial cell attachment, proliferation, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, and calcium production of hFOB cells (n=5 per group) were measured.


Cells on AM discs exhibited expedited proliferative activity. While there were no differences in mean ALP expression and calcium production between TPS and AM discs, calcium production on the AM discs trended 48% higher than on TPS discs (p=0.07). Overall, HA-coating did not further enhance results compared to uncoated TPS and AM discs.


Results demonstrate that additive manufacturing allows for controlled trabecular-like surfaces that promote earlier cell proliferation and trends toward higher calcium production than TPS coating. Results further showed that nanocrystalline HA may not provide an advantage on porous titanium surfaces.

Clinical Relevance

Additive manufactured porous titanium surfaces may induce a more osteogenic environment compared to traditional TPS, and thus present as an attractive alternative to TPS-coating for orthopedic spinal implants.

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additive manufacturing, titanium plasma spray coating, osteointegration, biomimetic implant surfaces
Volume 11 Issue 3
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