Bending and fracture toughness of woven self-reinforced composite poly(methyl methacrylate)

Debra D. Wright, Eugene P. Lautenschlager, Jeremy L. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Loosening remains an impediment to the long-term success of total hip replacements despite numerous improvements in the materials used. In cemented prostheses, fatigue and fracture of bone cement have been implicated in the failure of these devices. A new material, self-reinforced composite poly(methyl methacrylate) (SRC-PMMA), has been developed. SRC-PMMA is formed by a novel processing method that will be described. The composite consists of high strength, highly oriented PMMA fibers embedded in a matrix of PMMA. Using a woven form of SRC-PMMA, an in vitro physical and mechanical evaluation was performed to assess the feasibility of its use in an orthopedic prosthesis. Three different weaves of SRC-PMMA were evaluated in bending and fracture toughness in air, after immersion for 30 days in 37°C saline, and after gamma irradiation followed by immersion. Bending modulus and strength were decreased by gamma irradiation followed by saline immersion. The effect of saline immersion alone on bending strength and modulus was negligible. Saline immersion and gamma irradiation followed by saline immersion was shown to have little or no effect on the fracture toughness of woven SRC-PMMA. Differences in the fracture processes of the different weaves were found and can be related to the differing orientation of fibers to the fracture toughness pre-crack. Optimally incorporated SRC- PMMA absorbs the same amount of water as bone cement. Comparison to previous and current work with bone cement controls shows that SRC-PMMA is a material equal to or better than bone cement in all tests performed. It deserves further consideration as a candidate biomaterial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-453
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 15 1997


  • Bone cement
  • Composite
  • Flexure
  • Fracture toughness
  • Gamma irradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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