Post-processing of titanium 3D printouts with radio frequency plasma
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Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, Lodz University of Technology, Stefanowskiego 1/15, 90-924 Lodz, Poland
Clinical Department of Orthopedic-Traumatic, Oncological and Reconstructive Surgery, St. Barbara Specialized Regional Hospital No. 5, Sosnowiec, Plac Medyków 1, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
Krzysztof Jastrzębski
Engineering of Biomaterials 2021;(160):8–14
Additive manufacturing is a technology of great interest for biomedical engineering and medicine since it enables to mimic natural structures. The 3D printouts require post-processing to ensure desired surface properties and interaction with living matter. The presented research focuses on novel approaches involving plasma treatment of Ti6Al4V scaffolds obtained by Direct Metal Printing. Solid samples and scaffolds of two various geometries were treated in atmospheres of pure argon, argon and oxygen or pure oxygen. The effect of post-processing was evaluated with scanning electron microscopy, measurements of mass, and surface roughness. In all the examined cases the proposed post-processing method reduces the amount of loosely bonded powder particles remaining after printing. The changes of mass before and after the treatment are much lower than in the case of popular wet chemical methods. The character of undergoing post-processing depends on the process atmosphere resulting in physical etching or the combination of physical etching and chemical oxidation. The action of argon or argon/oxygen plasma reduces mass to the level of only 1% while by use of pure oxygen atmosphere even the slight increase of the overall sample mass is observed. The plasma etching was successfully introduced for the treatment of titanium 3D printouts to minimize the detachment of powder particles. That method not only is much softer than chemical etching but it can also lead to specific surface structurization that may be beneficial regarding medical applications of such printouts.