Multi-color and Multi-Material 3D Printing of Knee Joint models

Oliver Grimaldo Ruiz, Yasin Dhaher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study reports on a new method for the development of multi-color and multi-material realistic Knee Joint anatomical models with unique features. In particular, the design of a fibers matrix structure that mimics the soft tissue anatomy. Methods: Various Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems and the PolyJet 3D printing were used in the fabrication of three anatomical models wherein fibers matrix structure is mimicked: (i) Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACL-R) model used in the previous study. (ii) ACL-R model, incorporating orientations, directions, locations, and dimensions of the tunnels, as well as a custom-made surgical guide (SG) for avoiding graft tunnel length mismatch. (iii) Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) model, including custom-made implants. Before models 3D printing, uni-axial tensile tests were conducted to obtain the mechanical behaviors for individual No. 1 (A60-A50), No. 2 (A50-A50), No. 3 (A50-A40), and No. 4 (A70-A60) soft tissue-mimicking polymers. Each material combination represents different shore-hardness values between fiber and matrix respectively. Results: We correlated the pattern of stress-strain curves in the elastic region, stiffness, and elastic modulus of proposed combinations with published literature. Accordingly, material combinations No. 1 and No. 4 with elastic modules of 0.76-1.82 MPa were chosen for the soft tissues 3D printing. Finally, 3D printing Knee Joint models were tested manually simulating 50 flexo-extension cycles without presenting ruptures. Conclusion: The proposed anatomical models offer a diverse range of applications. These may be considered as an alternative to replacing cadaver specimens for medical training, pre-operative planning, research and education purposes, and predictive models validation. The soft tissue anatomy-mimicking materials are strong enough to withstand the stretching during the flexo-extension. The methodology reported for the design of the fiber-matrix structure might be considered as a start to develop new patterns and typologies that may mimic soft tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
Journal3D Printing in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Anatomical models
  • Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
  • Knee Joint
  • Three-dimensional printing
  • Total knee arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Science Applications


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