Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is a bioinert polymer that is widely used as bulk material in reconstructive surgery for structural replacements of bone and cartilage. Porous UHMWPE can be used for trabecular bone tissue replacement, and it can be used in living cell studies as bioinert 3D substrate permeable to physiological fluids. It is important to develop techniques to govern the morphology of open-cell porous UHMWPE structures (pore size, shape, and connectivity), since this allows control over proliferation and differentiation in living cell populations. We report experimental results on the mechanical behavior of porous open-cell UHMWPE obtained through sacrificial removal (desalination) of hot-molded UHMWPE-NaCl powder mixtures with pore sizes in the range 75 μm to 500 μm. The structures were characterized using SEM and mechanically tested under static compression and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), bending, and tensile tests. Apparent elastic modulus and complex modulus were in the range of 1.2 to 2.5 MPa showing a weak dependence on cell size. Densification under compression caused the apparent elastic modulus to increase to 130 MPa.
- Mechanical properties
- Porous UHMWPE