Researchers get $1.8M to improve hip, knee replacements

Bandyopadhyay-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve materials used in hip and knee replacements.

Led by Amit Bandyopadhyay, professor in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, the researchers were awarded a five-year, $1.8 million grant to use 3D printing and nanomaterials to improve how bone implants integrate into the body.

1 million replacements a year

About 1 million hip and knee replacements are done every year in the U.S., but many of them fail within 15 years. Most use acrylic bone cement, a technique used for 40 years. While this makes sense for a quick recovery, the bone implants don’t bond strongly to surrounding tissue and eventually loosen.

Bandyopadhyay, center right, holds bone replacement parts.

To enhance bone bonding ability, the medical industry introduced porous metal-coated implants. Although they have gained popularity, manufacturing these implants is a complex, multistep process that has generated quality-control issues for the industry.

Last year, WSU researchers received a five-year NIH grant to improve ceramic, or bone-like, coatings for implants to enhance bone bonding ability (see
). The new grant will research porous metal coatings for the implants using 3D printing technology.

Nanotube ‘Chia Pets’

Using an idea reminiscent of “Chia Pets,” the researchers will dunk porous metal-coated implants in an electro-chemical solution and then grow tiny nanotubes of metal on the surface. In preliminary studies, the researchers found the tiny nanotubes act as anchors, allowing the implants to bond more strongly to surrounding tissue.

The researchers also will study the ideal parameters for making the coatings and look into the best manufacturing methods.

Text available on 3D printing

There is significant interest in the medical industry in the project, and the researchers are working with Zimmer Biomet, a biomedical device company. Additional WSU collaborators include Susmita Bose, professor in the Voiland College, Nairanjana Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, and William Dernell, professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.

Bandyopadhyay and Bose have been leaders for more than a decade in 3D printing of bone materials and in improved materials for bone implants. They recently completed a college textbook about 3D printing, “Additive Manufacturing.”


Amit Bandyopadhyay, WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, 509-335-4862,
Brett Stav, WSU Voiland College communications, 509-335-8189,