Material Processing and Design of Biodegradable Metal Matrix
Composites for Biomedical Applications
Beijing Engineering Research Center of Smart Mechanical Innovation Design Service, Beijing, People’s Republic of China;
Robot Academy, Beijing Union University, Beijing 100101, People’s Republic of China;
Department of Bioengineering, Rice
University, 6500 Main Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA; and
Jinzhou Medical University, Jinzhou 121000, People’s Republic of
(Received 6 February 2018; accepted 23 May 2018)
Associate Editor Debra T. Auguste oversaw the review of this article.
Abstract—In recent years, biodegradable metallic materials
have played an important role in biomedical applications.
However, as typical for the metal materials, their structure,
general properties, preparation technology and biocompat-
ibility are hard to change. Furthermore, biodegradable
metals are susceptible to excessive degradation and subse-
quent disruption of their mechanical integrity; this phe-
nomenon limits the utility of these biomaterials. Therefore,
the use of degradable metals, as the base material to prepare
metal matrix composite materials, it is an excellent alterna-
tive to solve the problems above described. Biodegradable
metals can thus be successfully combined with other mate-
rials to form biodegradable metallic matrix composites for
biomedical applications and functions. The present article
describes the processing methods currently available to
design biodegradable metal matrix composites for biomedical
applications and provides an overview of the current existing
biodegradable metal systems. At the end, the manuscript
presents and discusses the challenges and future research
directions for development of biodegradable metallic matrix
composites for biomedical purposes.
Keywords—Biodegradable metal matrix composites, Process-
ing and design, Biomedical applications.
Development of Biodegradable Metals
At present, around 70–80% of biomedical implants
are made from metallic materials.
materials play an important role in biomedical appli-
cations, especially for the support of load bearing
tissues such as orthopedic, dental, and cardiovascular
Biodegradable metals (BMs) have received
much attention in recent years. The deﬁnition of a
biodegradable metal was summed up on 2014 to con-
sist of three requirements: to be composed primarily of
metallic components that can be metabolized by the
human body, to corrode gradually in vivo, to produce
corrosion products that do not elicit a negative host
With the use of traditional metal im-
plants, several notable problems have emerged. Some
metals release toxic ions as a result of corrosion post-
implantation, causing allergic reactions, local ana-
phylaxis, and inﬂammation.
mechanical properties of conventional metallic bio-
materials often do not match those of native tissue,
which can cause stress-shielding effects under physio-
logical loading. As a result, the usage of metal implants
can result in suboptimal bone repair.
importantly, traditional metal implants are not
degradable in the physiological environment, requiring
additional surgery to remove them after tissue healing.
Materials scientists and engineers have thus investi-
gated the development of novel metallic biomaterials
to replace these traditional metals.
As biodegradable metallic biomaterials, they can
better maintain the mechanical integrity during tissue
healing than the traditional biodegradable biomateri-
als. Due to their gradual degradation in vivo, negative
effects brought on by the prolonged presence of these
materials are reduced, including inﬂammation,
restenosis in cardiovascular stents, and stress shielding
induced by orthopedic implants.
biodegradable metals have been considered as a
promising candidate for biomedical applications
associated with bone
and blood vessels.
the requirements described above for BM materials,
Address correspondence to Jingxin Yang, Robot Academy, Bei-
jing Union University, Beijing 100101, People’s Republic of China.
Electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annals of Biomedical Engineering (
2018 Biomedical Engineering Society