The prototype design.
The prototype design.

The 3D design uses topology optimisation to match the stiffness of human bone and has an open pore structure for transporting essential nutrients through the implant. The researchers say that this is an improvement upon conventional implants that are manufactured out of fully dense (and non-porous) titanium, which can be too stiff for the surrounding bone. This mismatch in stiffness has been identified as a major causal factor in implant loosening. Further, conventional implants can be unsuitable for patients who have suffered from severe trauma, tumours, infection or deformities.

"Customised, porous implants may be able to alleviate these issues by matching both the geometry and the properties of the surrounding bone," said Dr Vivien Challis, of UQ's School of Mathematics and Physics, and co-author of the study that was recently published in Advanced Engineering Materials.