FibreTuff PAPC biomaterials have radiopaque qualities when 3D Printed. These PAPC compositions do not require traditional fillers for radiopacity like barium sulfate, bismuth or tungsten. The traditional fillers are 4 times heavier then FibreTuff PAPC and in most cases require 40% or more loadings for effective results. The high loading levels of traditional fillers will also decrease the physical properties like elasticity of the polymer. Furthermore, the traditional fillers are very expensive $30 to $40 per lb.
The FibreTuff PAPC compound used to achieve the radiopacity seen in the CT Scan of the femur bone utilized a PAPC II compound. However, FibreTuff PAPC can be used in a Salt and Pepper arrangement to help with the radiopacity for nylon or polypropylene medical tubing.
CT Scan of a 3D Printed femur bone made with FibreTuff PAPC
Polymers like PEEK (Polyetherether Ketone) have gained increasing acceptance as a high performance implant material. Significant advantages over metals include: the elimination of imaging artefacts, the ability to view tissue/bone growth and repair using x rays (which can often be obscured with metal parts) and, more generally in this and other applications, the avoidance of allergic tissue reaction to metallic ions. It is believed that stress shielding with metals can lead to processes of localized bone remodeling and mass loss, resulting in implant loosening or in weakening of the bony area around the implant, which ultimately may lead to failure. In diagnostics, as well as in postoperative inspection, it is increasingly important to monitor the healing process by modern imaging technologies.
In an X-ray image, the intensive shadow produced by a metal implant overlaps the area of importance for the surgeon, making it difficult, or even impossible, to adequately inspect. This is similar in CT -imaging where metal implants create artfacts. A PEEK polymer is transparent to X-rays and there are no artefacts created in CT scans. Because plastics are non-magnetic MRI technologies still can be used with patients that have received a plastic implant. As for allergic reactions to nickel and other metal ions, owing to the high purity of certain polymers / compounds the total amount of metallic ions is very low (ppm and ppb levels) so no allergic reactions are to be expected.
X-ray markers made from tantalum are suitable for direct implantation in the human body as well as radio-graphic indicators in implants made from low density materials like e.g. PEEK. Tantalum (Ta) has a high density (16 g per cm3) which is 50% higher than lead (Pb) and therefore more radio-opaque. For this reason tantalum markers require a lower x-ray dose for examination. Tantalum metal is further highly biocompatible and has been used for surgery for more than 30 years without any severe events reported. Tantalum x-ray markers are among the safest options currently available .
FibreTuff PAPC can be used for medical tubing to increase radiopacity.