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Novel Designs of Bone-like Scaffolds using Topology Optimisation and Additive Manufacturing

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr Khamis Essa, Dr Adel Abdelwahab  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The advanced manufacturing lab at the School of Engineering, University of Birmingham is looking for a talented student to join the group and work on new project for 3D printing of synthetic bone graft substitute. The Advanced Manufacturing lab has long history and excellent track record in the area of advanced manufacturing with extensive number of research projects funded by the UK research council, EU and industry to support automotive, aerospace, defence and biomedical sectors. The lab is equipped with the state of art processing facilities including metal/ceramic 3D printing and sheet metal forming; characterisation facilities (SEM, EDX, EBSD, 3D scanning); heat treatment and sintering facilities; formulation preparation facilities (ball milling, tumble mixer, etc) as well as mechanical testing facilities.

Bone grafting is one of the most commonly used surgical methods to augment bone regeneration in orthopaedic procedures. More than two million bone grafting procedures are performed annually worldwide, which is the second most frequent tissue transplantation right after blood transfusion. Bone grafts are indicated in the treatment of fractures and non-unions, after bone loss due to tumour or infection, and in reconstructive procedures such as fusions or joint replacements. Autogenous grafts (bone harvested from the patient’s own body to replace damaged tissues) remain the gold standard for bone grafts. However, there are several disadvantages of autogenous grafting including morbidity of surgical procedures, increased anaesthesia time, increased blood loss, post-op donor site complications and limited amount of graft material. Over the years, many synthetic bone graft substitutes have emerged; however, they are still far from being a perfect substitute for autogenous bone. One of the main problem of the current synthetic bone substitutes is that they don’t possess the required mechanical properties that make them a reliable structural component for bone repairs.

This PhD project will focus on developing 3D printing processes, topology optimisation methods, characterisation techniques, experimental testing and numerical simulations to support the development of bone graft substitutes for bone repair, augmentation or substitution. The proposed bone graft substitute will be made from naturally occurring and biocompatible substances using advanced manufacturing techniques. This innovative approach will lead to additional functionality of bone graft substitute including improvement of bioactivity (formation of bone apatite-like material on their surfaces and a strong bone-substitute biomaterial interface) and osteoconductivity (ability to provide the appropriate scaffold for bone formation). The ultimate aim of this project is to develop synthetic bone graft substitutes made from naturally occurring and biocompatible substances with similar mechanical properties to real bone tissues.  

The project will require an individual with high-level skills in manufacturing (especially 3D printing), experimental and computational techniques with an interest in topology optimisation and biomaterials. While not all these skills are essential, the applicant will need to demonstrate an ability to learn and develop new skills efficiently. 

Funding Notes

The project is funded by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design, University of Birmingham. For UK/home students, the centre provides around £14500 stipend and complete tuition fees per annum for four years. For EU and overseas students, the centre provides tuition fees and stipend at home rate, applicants have to make the difference between home rate and international rate.
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