Objectives: Reconstruction plates, used to bridge segmental defects of the mandible after tumor resection or traumatic bone tissue loss, are subjected to repeated stresses of mastication. High stress concentrations in these plates can result in hardware failure. Topology optimization (TO) could reduce the peak stress by computing the most optimal material distribution in a patient-specific implant (PSI) used for mandibular reconstruction. The objective of this study was biomechanical validation of a TO-PSI.

Methods: A computer-aided design (CAD) model with a segmental defect was created based on the geometry of a polyurethane mandible model. A standard-PSI was designed to bridge the defect. A TO-PSI was then designed with a maximum stress equal to the ultimate tensile stress of Ti6Al4V (930 MPa) during a loading condition of 378 N. Finite element analysis (FEA) was used to analyze stresses in both PSI designs during loading. The standard-PSI and TO-PSI designs were produced in triplicate by selective laser melting of Ti6Al4V, fixated to polyurethane mandible models with segmental defects identical to the CAD model, and subsequently subjected to continuous compression with a speed of 1 mm/min on a universal testing machine, while recording the load. Peak loads before failure in the TO-PSI group within a 30% range of the predicted peak load (378 N) were considered a successful biomechanical validation.

Results: Fracture of the TO-PSI occurred at a median peak load of 334 N (range 304-336 N). These values are within the 30% range of the predicted peak load. Fracture of the mandible model in the standard-PSI group occurred at a median peak load of 1100 N (range 1010-1460 N). Failure locations during biomechanical testing of TO-PSI and standard-PSI samples corresponded to regions in the FEA where stresses exceeded the ultimate tensile strength of titanium and polyurethane, respectively.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates a successful preliminary biomechanical validation of TO in the design process for mandibular reconstruction plates. Further work is needed to refine the finite element model, which is necessary to ultimately design TO-PSIs for clinical use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104157
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Topology optimization
  • Patient-specific implant
  • Mandibular reconstruction
  • Finite element analysis
  • Biomechanical validation
  • HEAD

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