Tailoring the biologic responses of 3D printed PEEK medical implants by plasma functionalization

Dent Mater. 2022 Jul;38(7):1083-1098. doi: 10.1016/j.dental.2022.04.026. Epub 2022 May 11.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of two plasma surface treatments on the biologic responses of PEEK medical implants manufactured by fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing technology.

Methods: This study created standard PEEK samples using an FFF 3D printer. After fabrication, half of the samples were polished to simulate a smooth PEEK surface. Then, argon (Ar) or oxygen (O2) plasma was used to modify the bioactivity of FFF 3D printed and polished PEEK samples. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and a profilometer were used to determine the microstructure and roughness of the sample surfaces. The wettability of the sample surface was assessed using a drop shape analyzer (DSA) after plasma treatment and at various time points following storage in a closed environment. Cell adhesion, metabolic activity, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation of SAOS-2 osteoblasts were evaluated to determine the in vitro osteogenic activity.

Results: SEM analysis revealed that several spherical nanoscale particles and humps appeared on sample surfaces following plasma treatment. The wettability measurement demonstrated that plasma surface treatment significantly increased the surface hydrophilicity of PEEK samples, with only a slight aging effect found after 21 days. Cell adhesion, spreading, proliferation, and differentiation of SAOS-2 osteoblasts were also up-regulated after plasma treatment. Additionally, PEEK samples treated with O2 plasma demonstrated a higher degree of bioactivation than those treated with Ar.

Significance: Plasma-modified PEEK based on FFF 3D printing technology was a feasible and prospective bone grafting material for bone/dental implants.

Keywords: Bioactivity; Fused Filament Fabrication; Plasma surface treatment; Polyetheretherketone; Wettability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Argon
  • Benzophenones
  • Biological Products*
  • Dental Implants*
  • Ketones / chemistry
  • Osteogenesis
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Polymers
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surface Properties


  • Benzophenones
  • Biological Products
  • Dental Implants
  • Ketones
  • Polymers
  • polyetheretherketone
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Argon