Addition of bioactive materials such as calcium phosphates or Bioglass, and incorporation of porosity into polyetheretherketone (PEEK) has been identified as an effective approach to improve bone-implant interfaces and osseointegration of PEEK-based devices. In this paper, a novel production technique based on the extrusion freeforming method is proposed that yields a bioactive PEEK/hydroxyapatite (PEEK/HA) composite with a unique configuration in which the bioactive phase (i.e.
, HA) distribution is computer-controlled within a PEEK matrix. The 100% interconnectivity of the HA network in the biocomposite confers an advantage over alternative forms of other microstructural configurations. Moreover, the technique can be employed to produce porous PEEK structures with controlled pore size and distribution, facilitating greater cellular infiltration and biological integration of PEEK composites within patient tissue. The results of unconfined, uniaxial compressive tests on these new PEEK/HA biocomposites with 40% HA under both static and cyclic mode were promising, showing the composites possess yield and compressive strength within the range of human cortical bone suitable for load bearing applications. In addition, preliminary evidence supporting initial biological safety of the new technique developed is demonstrated in this paper. Sufficient cell attachment, sustained viability in contact with the sample over a seven-day period, evidence of cell bridging and matrix deposition all confirmed excellent biocompatibility.
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