Size and boundary effects on notch tensile strength and fracture properties of PMMA bone cement


Poly (methyl methacrylate) bone cement is widely used for anchoring total joint replacements. In such an application, tensile and fracture properties of the cement are particularly important as they have strong implications for the stability of the implant in the bone bed and, hence, its life. Being a quasi-brittle material, it is to be expected that any mechanical property of bone cement would be size-dependent. This issue has not been addressed in the literature. In the present work, tests using modified wedge-splitting specimens were carried out to determine the size and boundary effects on the notch tensile strength (σNT) and on two fracture parameters, namely, specific fracture energy (Gf), and characteristic length based on the notch tensile strength (lchspl) of a widely used approved brand, Palacos® R. Size and boundary effects, of varying magnitudes, on each of these properties were found. For example, 1) for geometrically-similar specimens (specimen height (W) was varied from 15 mm to 36 mm but ratio of length of the starter crack (a) to W was fixed), the general trend was marked decrease in σNT with increase in W for a given a/W; and 2) for identical-sized specimens (W was fixed but a/W was varied from 0.06 to 0.81), the general trend was moderate decrease in Gf with increase in a/W for a given W. A validated boundary effect model presented in the literature and results from some of the specimens used in the present experimental work were used to compute the size-independent specific fracture energy and transition ligament length of the cement brand to be 2096 N m−1 and 4 mm, respectively.

Publication Title

Polymer Testing