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The aim of this study was to fabricate unidirectional bio-glass fibers (BGF) (13-93)-reinforced polylactic acid (PLA) composites with improved mechanical properties for a bone plate to heal the weight-bearing long-bone fractures. Various exposure times of air plasma (30, 60, 90 and 120 s) on BGF fibers were studied, and the most suitable conditions were determined for the fabrication of the BGF/PLA composite. Mechanical properties, microscopic characteristics, in vitro degradation and the bioactivity of the BGF/PLA composites were evaluated.

Fatigue life of 30 s plasma treated composites completed 1 million cycles when actual loading conditions (10–20% body weight) were used. 30 s plasma treated specimens showed increase in tensile strength, flexural strength and interlaminar shear strength as 31%, 13.5% and 33%, respectively. The SEM image of fractured surface of 30 s plasma treated composite suggested that the failure was shifted to the PLA which is evidence of superior bonding between fiber and PLA matrix. Moreover, a bone-like calcium-phosphate layer was precipitated on the surface of degraded composite that is essential for bone healing.

This article originally appeared in Composite Structures 143, 2016, Pages 23–32.

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