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Motivation: 3D printing is of outstanding importance in medical engineering and has been continuously growing in recent years. From prostheses and soft implants to matrices for tissue engineering, additive manufacturing has decisive advantages for medicine and in our case for dentistry too. A big challenge is to produce tiny devices, as dental implants, using PEEK in an FDM printer, knowing the parameters, which have an influence on the result. Apart from the thermal control of the printing stage and the nozzle, the nozzle diameter and the material characteristics play a key role to reach that goal.
Materials and Methods: Using a printer from Orion AM the first tests were performed to check the possibility to produce tiny devices with diameter of up to 4 mm and a height of 8 mm with a dental implant shape and structure features. The first goal was to find the limits concerning structure homogeneity and mechanical strength using different diameters of nozzle 0.15 to 0.4 mm using pure PEEK (Apium filament from Victrex 450G). Surface structure assessment were performed using a video microscope VHX 5000 (Keyence). The surface quality was analysed by microhardness indentation measurements and mechanical tests were performed using a universal testing machine Z010 (Zwick-Roell).
Results and Discussion: Interesting was that even with nozzle diameter of 0.15 mm a dental implant like structure could be printed. The main problem was the clogging of the nozzle by impurities of the filament. Using a 0.2 mm nozzle diameter an acceptable result could be performed with a diameter of 5mm and a length of 12 mm.
Conclusion: These first results show that a 3D printing with FDM strategy of dental implants is possible when the quality of the filaments can be increased. Further testing on strength of inter-layer bonding is necessary.