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This article is the author's final published version in the International Journal of Bioprinting, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2024, Pg. 431 - 444.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2024 Author(s).


In this study, our goal was to assess the suitability of a polyether-ether-ketone (PEEK) and silicon nitride (Si3N4) polymer composite for antimicrobial three-dimensional (3D)-printed cervical cages. Generic cage designs (PEEK and 15 vol.% Si3N4-PEEK) were 3D-printed, including solid and porous cage designs. Cages were tested in static compression, compression shear, and torsion per ASTM F2077. For antibacterial testing, virgin and composite filament samples were inoculated with Staphylococcus epidermidis and Escherichia coli. In vitro cell testing was conducted using MC3T3-E1 mouse preosteoblasts, where cell proliferation, cumulative mineralization, and osteogenic activity were measured. The 3D-printed PEEK and Si3N4-PEEK cages exhibited adequate mechanical strength for all designs, exceeding 14.7 kN in compression and 6.9 kN in compression shear. Si3N4-PEEK exhibited significantly lower bacterial adhesion levels, with a 93.9% reduction (1.21 log), and enhanced cell proliferation when compared to PEEK. Si3N4-PEEK would allow for custom fabrication of 3D-printed spinal implants that reduce the risk of infection compared to unfilled PEEK or metallic alloys.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.