Surface Finish has a Critical Influence on Biofilm Formation and Mammalian Cell Attachment to Additively Manufactured Prosthetics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Additive manufacturing (AM) technologies enable greater geometrical design freedom compared with subtractive processes. This flexibility has been used to manufacture patient-matched implants. Although the advantages of AM are clear, the optimization at each process stage is often understated. Here we demonstrate that surface finishing of selective laser melted (SLM) implants significantly alters topography, which has implications for cellular and biofilm adhesion. Hot isostatic pressing of as-fabricated Ti-6Al-4V implants was shown to reduce porosity (1.04 to 0.02%) and surface roughness (34 ± 8 to 22 ± 3 μm). Despite these surface changes, preosteoblasts exhibited a similar viability and proliferation after 7 days of culture. Contrastingly, sandblasting and polishing significantly reduced cellular activity and increased cytotoxicity. Bacterial specimens (Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) adhered more homogeneously to sandblasted implants compared with other treatments. This suggests that sandblasting may place the implant at risk of infection and reduce the strength of interaction with the surrounding soft tissues. The ability to tune the adhesion of cells to additively manufactured Ti-6Al-4V implants using postprocessing methods was demonstrated. Because the degree of tissue integration required of implants is application specific, these methods may be useful to tailor osseointegration. However, surface competition between mammalian and bacterial cells remains a challenge.


Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Biomaterial Science and Engineering
Early online date12 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2017


  • selective laser melting, surface finishing, additive manufacture, biofilm, cell adhesion