The Surface Characterisation of Fused Filament Fabricated (FFF) 3D Printed PEEK/Hydroxyapatite Composites

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Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) is a high-performance thermoplastic polymer which has found increasing application in orthopaedics and has shown a lot of promise for ‘made-to-measure’ implants via additive manufacturing approaches. However, PEEK is bioinert and needs to undergo surface modification to make it at least osteoconductive to ensure a more rapid, improved, and stable fixation that will last longer in vivo. One approach to solving this issue is to modify PEEK
with bioactive agents such as hydroxyapatite (HA). The work reported in this study demonstrates the direct 3D printing of PEEK/HA composites of up to 30 weight percent (wt%) HA using a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) approach. The surface characteristics and in vitro properties of the composite materials were investigated. X-ray diffraction revealed the samples to be semi-crystalline in
nature, with X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy and Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry revealing HA materials were available in the uppermost surface of all the 3D printed samples. In vitro testing of the samples at 7 days demonstrated that the PEEK/HA composite surfaces supported the adherence and growth of viable U-2 OS osteoblast like cells. These results demonstrate that FFF can deliver bioactive HA on the surface of PEEK bio-composites in a one-step 3D printing process.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3117
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021


  • additive manufacturing
  • advanced composite materials
  • 3D printing
  • Fused filament fabrication
  • PEEK
  • Polyetheretherketone
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • XPS
  • in vitro


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