Mechanics of Three-Dimensional Printed Lattices for Biomedical Devices

Paul F. Egan, Isabella Bauer, Kristina Shea, Stephen J. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing are enabling the design and fabrication of tailored lattices with high mechanical efficiency. Here, we focus on conducting experiments to mechanically characterize lattice structures to measure properties that inform an integrated design, manufacturing, and experiment framework. Structures are configured as beam-based lattices intended for use in novel spinal cage devices for bone fusion, fabricated with polyjet printing. Polymer lattices with 50% and 70% porosity were fabricated with beam diameters of 0.4-1.0mm, with measured effective elastic moduli from 28MPa to 213MPa. Effective elastic moduli decreased with higher lattice porosity, increased with larger beam diameters, and were highest for lattices compressed perpendicular to their original build direction. Cages were designed with 50% and 70% lattice porosities and included central voids for increased nutrient transport, reinforced shells for increased stiffness, or both. Cage stiffnesses ranged from 4.1kN/mm to 9.6kN/mm with yielding after 0.36-0.48mm displacement, thus suggesting their suitability for typical spinal loads of 1.65kN. The 50% porous cage with reinforced shell and central void was particularly favorable, with an 8.4kN/mm stiffness enabling it to potentially function as a stand-alone spinal cage while retaining a large open void for enhanced nutrient transport. Findings support the future development of fully integrated design approaches for 3D printed structures, demonstrated here with a focus on experimentally investigating lattice structures for developing novel biomedical devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031703
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


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