Singapore team explores the use of magnesium alloys

Strides in the medical field via 3D printing have been staggering, and especially in bioprinting, with many different technologies and materials being created. Now, researchers in Singapore are exploring the use of alloys like magnesium in fabricating scaffolding.

Magnesium is an alloy that can be used in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, as a third-generation biomaterial useful in tissue engineering; however, there are myriad challenges.

High vapor pressure can be a major obstacle in using magnesium, leading the researchers to explore AM processes with ambient temperature. This can allow for all the benefits of powder-bed inkjet 3D printing, as it can be employed at ambient temperatures, no supports are required, and powder can be fully recycled. The researchers have created a new 3D printing technique including a sintering process which transforms magnesium powder and green objects into functional parts that can be used in scaffolding, producing parts with mechanical properties as strong as human bone.

The research team customized their own ink-jet 3D printer for this study, working to overcome previous challenges with the use of magnesium. Maintaining oxygen percentages at the lowest levels possible was of ‘paramount importance’.