Daniela Brazete, Ana S. Neto, José Maria Fonte Ferreira


High-performance bioceramics such as zirconia, alumina, and their composites, are attractive materials for the fabrication of load-bearing bone implants because of their outstanding mechanical properties, biocompatibility, corrosion resistance, and aesthetic quality. A suitable level of porosity and pore sizes with a few hundred microns are required for a good bone integration of the scaffolds. This requirement can be achieved through additive manufacturing, like robocasting. For this purpose, the optimization of colloidal inks is one of paramount importance as the rheological properties of the inks determine the quality of the three-dimensional structures. This target has not been satisfactorily accomplished in previous research works. The present study aims at closing this gap by carrying out a systematic investigation about the influence of the most important parameters that determine the printing ability of zirconia inks. The dispersing ability of the zirconia powder was studied in order to maximize the solids loading while keeping a high degree of homogeneity of the starting suspensions. The viscoelastic properties of the suspensions were then altered by adding suitable doses of a coagulating agent to obtain easily extrudable pastes for the robocasting process. The green samples were dried and sintered at the heating rate of 1ºC/min up to 600ºC, an holding at this temperature for 1 h, followed by an heating rate of 5ºC/min up to 1350ºC and holding for 1 h at this temperature, and then cooling down to room temperature. Zirconia inks with high fraction of solids (48 vol.%) could be successfully prepared. The extruded cylinders exhibited an excellent shape retention in scaffolds with different macropore sizes (200, 300, 400 and 500 mm).


zirconia, porous scaffolds, suspensions, robocasting

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ISSN 0301-5491 (Print)
ISSN 2336-5552 (Online)
Published by the Czech Society for Biomedical Engineering and Medical Informatics and the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague.