Optimizing thickness of ceramic coatings on plastic components for orthopedic applications: A finite element analysis

Gregorio Marchiori, N. Lopomo, Marco Boi, Matteo Berni, M. Bianchi, A. Gambardella, A. Visani, A. Russo, M. Marcacci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Realizing hard ceramic coatings on the plastic component of a joint prosthesis can be strategic for the mechanical preservation of the whole implant and to extend its lifetime. Recently, thanks to the Plasma Pulsed Deposition (PPD) method, zirconia coatings on ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) substrates resulted in a feasible outcome. Focusing on both the highly specific requirements defined by the biomedical application and the effective possibilities given by the deposition method in the perspectives of technological transfer, it is mandatory to optimize the coating in terms of load bearing capacity. The main goal of this study was to identify through Finite Element Analysis (FEA) the optimal coating thickness that would be able to minimize UHMWPE strain, possible insurgence of cracks within the coating and stresses at coating-substrate interface. Simulations of nanoindentation and microindentation tests were specifically carried out. FEA findings demonstrated that, in general, thickening the zirconia coating strongly reduced the strains in the UHMWPE substrate, although the 1 μm thickness value was identified as critical for the presence of high stresses within the coating and at the interface with the substrate. Therefore, the optimal thickness resulted to be highly dependent on the specific loading condition and final applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-388
Number of pages8
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Ceramic coating
  • Finite element analysis
  • Indentation
  • Joint prosthesis
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials

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