How to Sterilize 3D Printed Objects for Surgical Use? An Evaluation of the Volumetric Deformation of 3D-Printed Genioplasty Guide in PLA and PETG after Sterilization by Low-Temperature Hydrogen Peroxide Gas Plasma

The Open Dentistry Journal 05 December 2019 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874210601913010410



In the present time, there is rapid development in the application of 3D printing technology in surgery. One of the challenges encountered by the surgeon is the sterilization of these 3D-printed objects for use in the operating room.

Materials and Methods:

Forty-two identical cutting guides used for genioplasty were 3D-printed: twenty-one in Polylactic acid (PLA) and twenty-one in Polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG). The guides were CT scanned after printing. They were then sterilized with the low-temperature hydrogen peroxide gas plasma technique (Sterrad®). A CT scan of the guides was also performed at T1 (after printing) and T2 (after sterilization). A software (Cloudcompare ®) was then used to accurately compare the volume of each guide at T0 (the initial computer-aided designed guide) vs T1 and T1 vs T2. Statistical analysis was then performed.


Although there are differences that are statistically significant for each series between T0 and T2 and T1 and T2 for both PLA and PETG, this had no impact on the clinical use of sterilized objects using hydrogen peroxide sterilization technique because these morphological differences were minimal at less than 0.2mm.


Morphological deformations induced by the hydrogen peroxide sterilization are sub-millimeter and acceptable for surgical use. The hydrogen peroxide sterilization is, therefore, an alternative to avoid the deformation of 3D-printed objects made from PLA and PETG during conventional steam sterilization (autoclave). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study regarding the morphologic deformation of 3D-printed objects in PLA and PETG after sterilization for medical use.

Keywords: 3D printing, CADCAM, Additive manufacturing, Fused deposition modelling, Maxillofacial surgery, Orthognathic surgery, Genioplasty, Polylactic acid, PLA, PETG, Polyethylene terephthalate glycol, Sterilization, Hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, Sterrad sterilization system.
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