Smart Implants

Role | Mechanical Engineer
Team Size | 7 M.E. Students
Duration | 15 weeks
Class | Junior Engineering Clinic I, Rowan University Fall 2015
Challenge | Optimize the design and function of a femur plate used to treat infection
Software | Excel
Fabrication Tools | 3D printer
Analysis Tools | Material testing system (MTS)

The overall purpose of our research was to develop a smart implant for bone tissue engineering.  Specifically, femur plates and total knee replacements are current implants used to help heal fractured femurs or worn-down knees.  The issue with these current implants is that the area often gets infected and a second surgery is required to fix the implant.  During this period between surgeries, the patient is immobile and infection treatment is ineffective.  This infection treatment period could greatly be improved, thus inspiring our clinic project.  Our implant was designed to deliver anti-inflammatory drugs to the infection site steadily over a 6-8 week period.  We also looked into testing the material properties of PLA in order to make a more cost-effective and biodegradable implant.


I specifically worked on the femur plate team, taking a look at rapidly prototyping a femur plate design and analyzing which material to use.  We were tasked with testing the material properties of PMMA, the material found in the current infection treatment process, to compare to the material properties of PLA, a common plastic used in 3D printing.  We created bars of the same geometry of both materials and conducted three-point bend testing to compare the flexural properties of PMMA against PLA.  Additionally, we also performed three-point bend testing of different print orientations of the PLA femur plates to determine which orientation could absorb the most load before fracturing.