The effect of steam sterilization on different 3D printable materials for surgical use in veterinary medicine
Different 3D-printed materials polyactic acid (PLA), polyamide (PA), polycarbonates (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and GreenTEC Pro®I have been considered for surgical templates, but there is a sparity of data about how these materials are affected by steam sterilization. The aim of the current study was to test if and how these materials change morphologically when high temperature, pressure and humidity are applied during the steam sterilization process. The overall aim is to create patient-specific sawing templates for performing corrective osteotomies. After the designing process, test-specimens with five different materials: PLA, PC, ABS, PA and GreenTEC Pro® were 3D-printed in two filling grades (30 and 100%). The FDM method was used for printing. After 3D-printing, the test-specimens were steam sterilized with a standard program lasting 20 min, at a temperature of 121 °C and a pressure of 2-3 bar. In order to measure the deviation of the printed model, we measured the individual test-specimens before and after steam sterilization using a sliding gauge.
PC, PA and ABS showed great morphological deviations from the template after 3D-printing and steam sterilization (> 1%) respectively. ABS proved unsuitable for steam sterilization. PLA and GreenTEC Pro® demonstrated fewer morphological deviations both before and after sterilization. Therefore, we decided to perform a second test just with PLA and Green-TEC Pro® to find out which material has the highest stability and is probably able to be used for clinical application. The smallest deviations were found with the GreenTEC Pro® solid body. After autoclaving, the specimens showed a deviation from the planned body and remained below the 1% limit.
Steam sterilization causes morphological deviations in 3D printed objects. GreenTEC Pro® seems to be a suitable material for clinical use, not only for intraoperative use, but also for precise modeling. Microbiological examination, as well as biomechanical tests, should be performed to further assess whether intraoperative use is possible.