Smart 4D-printed implants and instruments
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Selective laser melting (SLM) was used to manufacture smart programmed structures with customized properties made of biocompatible NiTi shape-memory alloy. A series of helixes was produced with systematically varied SLM process parameters Laser Exposure Time and Laser Power in order to specifically change the thermo-mechanical material properties of the 3D-structures. This innovation opens up the possibility to adjust the NiTi phase transformation temperature during the manufacturing process. This controllable property determines which of the two crystallographic phases martensite or austenite is present at a certain operating temperature and allows the mechanical properties to be adjusted: martensitic devices are soft and pseudo-plastic due to the shape-memory effect, whereas austenitic structures are pseudo-elastic. In a further step, the SLM process parameters were locally varied within 4D-printed twin-helixes. As a result, the phases, respectively the mechanical properties of a single component were adjusted at different locations. The ratio of elastic to plastic deformation and the spring constant of the helix can be locally controlled. This allows, for example, the spatio-temporal programming of 3D-printed surgical instruments or implants that are stimuli-responsive.