Today´s modern medical treatments and systems lead to growth rates over 95 % for titanium dental implants in human jaw bone. Even after 10 years, 97 % of implants keep their function as dental prostheses. However, there is still a need for improvement. Alone in Germany, more than 800,000 implants were inserted in 2014 and the demand for implants will further increase. Studies show that tooth loss is age-related which is important, because already in 2020 every third inhabitant in Germany will be older than 65 years. In consequence, new technologies capable to bring an increased performance of implants as well as to reduce costs in high volume manufacturing processes are necessary.
A good functional interaction between an implant surface and the surrounding tissue is determined by its physicochemical and morphological properties. Considering topography, it is reported that best cell adhesion on titanium implants is achievable with surface roughness in the lower micrometer range.
In this study, direct laser interference pattering (DLIP) is used as a structuring technique to create periodic grooves with a repetitive distance between 5 and 20 µm. A pulsed nanosecond laser system is used, operating at a fundamental wavelength of 532 nm. With variation of energy density, different shapes of the arising topography are observed due to the development of the solidification fronts. In cell viability and adhesion tests, structured titanium surfaces show a comparable performance with sandblasted and etched ones. Production costs could be reduced, because unlike sandblasting and etching, DLIP is a one-step process. Finally, complex three-dimensional screw shaped implants are patterned. Remarkable is that the process set-up for both, blanks and implants is the same.