While potentially strong enough for load-bearing skeletal reconstruction applications, the corrosion (biodegradation) rate of biocompatible Mg-Zn-Ca-based alloys still presents. The present work reports on the use of heat treatment (strengthening and resorption delaying) and micro arc oxidation (MAO) coating (corrosion delaying) processes which were developed to induce desirable corrosion rates which are essential to maintaining the mechanical integrity of Mg-Zn-Ca-based alloys during the bone healing period. Three Mg-x%Zn-0.5%Ca (wt%) alloys with different levels of Zn content (1.2, 1.6 and 5 wt%) were prepared and heat-treated at different age hardening temperatures (100, 150, 200 and 250 °C). In order to further decrease the corrosion rate and improve the bioactivity, samples of the heat-treated Alloy I (Mg-1.2wt%Zn-0.5wt%Ca) at the optimized age-hardening conditions were successfully coated with a biocompatible composite coating without and with HA/β-TCP nanoparticles by using an MAO process. The microstructure, morphology and the composition of the heat-treated and coated materials were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and x-ray diffraction (XRD). Hardness and compression tests were conducted, while a corrosion investigation of heat-treated and coated samples was performed using potentiodynamic polarization (PDP) and a mechanical integrity immersion test. The results confirmed that Zn content and age hardening temperature have significant effects on the mechanical and corrosion properties of heat-treated Mg-Zn-Ca-based alloys. Alloy I, which has 1.2 wt% Zn content and was aged at 200 °C, showed the best combination of corrosion (slowest) and mechanical (highest) properties. The MAO (HA/β-TCP) composite coating significantly improved corrosion resistance compared to the uncoated heat-treated alloy, with only 11.3% reduction in the compressive strength after 8 weeks of immersion.
Keywords: Age hardening; Bone implants; Coating; Corrosion; Magnesium; Micro arc oxidation.
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