J Biol Eng. 2023 Aug 29;17(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s13036-023-00371-7.
The use of biodegradable polymers for treating bone-related diseases has become a focal point in the field of biomedicine. Recent advancements in material technology have expanded the range of materials suitable for orthopaedic implants. Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology has become prevalent in healthcare, and while organ printing is still in its early stages and faces ethical and technical hurdles, 3D printing is capable of creating 3D structures that are supportive and controllable. The technique has shown promise in fields such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and new innovations in cell and bio-printing and printing materials have expanded its possibilities. In clinical settings, 3D printing of biodegradable metals is mainly used in orthopedics and stomatology. 3D-printed patient-specific osteotomy instruments, orthopedic implants, and dental implants have been approved by the US FDA for clinical use. Metals are often used to provide support for hard tissue and prevent complications. Currently, 70-80% of clinically used implants are made from niobium, tantalum, nitinol, titanium alloys, cobalt-chromium alloys, and stainless steels. However, there has been increasing interest in biodegradable metals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron, with numerous recent findings. The advantages of 3D printing, such as low manufacturing costs, complex geometry capabilities, and short fabrication periods, have led to widespread adoption in academia and industry. 3D printing of metals with controllable structures represents a cutting-edge technology for developing metallic implants for biomedical applications. This review explores existing biomaterials used in 3D printing-based orthopedics as well as biodegradable metals and their applications in developing metallic medical implants and devices. The challenges and future directions of this technology are also discussed.