Steam Autoclave Sterilization in Photopolymer Resin 3D Printing


The use of 3D printing technologies, particularly those involving photopolymer resins such as stereolithography (SLA) and vat photopolymerization (VPP), has become increasingly prevalent in the medical field. These technologies allow for the creation of intricate and patient-specific medical devices and surgical guides. However, ensuring the sterility of these 3D printed objects is crucial, as they are often used in invasive procedures. Steam autoclave sterilization is a widely used method for sterilizing medical devices due to its effectiveness and cost-efficiency. This report evaluates the relevance, reliability, and significance of selected sources that discuss the impact of steam autoclave sterilization on 3D printed materials made from photopolymer resins.

Source Analysis

Effects of Steam Sterilization on 3D Printed Surgical Guides

  • Citation: NCBI - PMC7291001
  • Relevance: This study directly addresses the effects of steam sterilization on the dimensional accuracy of 3D printed surgical guides made from photopolymer resin materials. It is highly relevant as it provides empirical data on the changes in dimensions post-sterilization.
  • Reliability: The source is a peer-reviewed article published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) platform, which is a reliable and respected database for biomedical literature.
  • Significance: The study’s findings indicate that steam sterilization can lead to linear expansion of photopolymeric resin materials, affecting the outer and inner dimensions of the printed objects. This information is crucial for medical professionals and researchers who rely on the dimensional accuracy of 3D printed surgical guides.

Sterilization Effects on Mechanical Properties of 3D Printed Parts

  • Citation: NCBI - PMC10406103
  • Relevance: This source discusses the broader implications of sterilization on the mechanical behavior and dimensional changes of 3D printed parts, which is essential for understanding the potential applications and limitations of these materials in medical settings.
  • Reliability: Published on NCBI, the article is likely peer-reviewed and offers a comprehensive overview of sterilization methods, including steam autoclave, and their effects on various 3D printing materials.
  • Significance: The source provides a foundational understanding of how different sterilization processes, including steam autoclave, can affect the mechanical properties of 3D printed objects, which is vital for ensuring the reliability and safety of medical devices.

Sterilization of 3D Printed Genioplasty Guides

  • Citation: NCBI - PMC7291001
  • Relevance: This study specifically examines the impact of steam sterilization on 3D printed genioplasty guides made from PLA and PETG, which are common materials used in medical 3D printing.
  • Reliability: As a peer-reviewed article from NCBI, this source is reliable and provides detailed experimental results.
  • Significance: The study highlights the importance of selecting appropriate sterilization methods based on the material properties of 3D printed objects, which is critical for maintaining the structural integrity and functionality of medical devices.

FDA-Approved Solutions for 3D Printing in Veterinary Medicine

  • Citation: BMC Veterinary Research
  • Relevance: Although focused on veterinary medicine, this source discusses the importance of using FDA-approved solutions for 3D printing and the effects of different sterilization methods on 3D printed materials.
  • Reliability: The article is published in a reputable journal and provides insights from a pilot study, adding to its credibility.
  • Significance: The findings from this source can be extrapolated to human medicine, emphasizing the need for standardized and approved sterilization practices for 3D printed medical devices.

Vat Photopolymerization of PTFE Parts

  • Citation: ScienceDirect - S010956412200269X
  • Relevance: This source explores the vat photopolymerization 3D printing process and its implications for printing precision, which is indirectly related to the topic of sterilization.
  • Reliability: Published on ScienceDirect, the article is part of a peer-reviewed journal, ensuring its reliability.
  • Significance: While not directly addressing sterilization, the source provides valuable context on the vat photopolymerization process, which is necessary for understanding the potential effects of sterilization on the printed parts.

Sterilization of Implantable Polymer-Based Medical Devices

  • Citation: International Journal of Pharmaceutics - S0378517317311304
  • Relevance: This review article provides a comprehensive overview of sterilization methods for implantable polymer-based medical devices, including those produced by 3D printing technologies.
  • Reliability: The International Journal of Pharmaceutics is a well-respected, peer-reviewed journal, making this source highly reliable.
  • Significance: The article discusses the challenges and considerations for sterilizing polymer-based devices, which is essential for ensuring the safety and efficacy of 3D printed medical implants.

Sterilization and Disinfection Methods for Additive Manufacturing

  • Citation: ScienceDirect - S0264127522007419
  • Relevance: This study critically evaluates the effects of different sterilization and disinfection methods on commonly used additive manufacturing materials in medical device development.
  • Reliability: As a publication on ScienceDirect, this source is part of a peer-reviewed journal, which supports its reliability.
  • Significance: The research provides a state-of-the-art guide to the sterilization of thermoplastic polymers and resin materials used in additive manufacturing, which is directly relevant to the research question.

Additive Manufacturing in Hospitals

  • Citation: NCBI - PMC8912381
  • Relevance: This article discusses the availability of additive manufacturing in hospitals and the importance of sterilizable materials for surgical applications.
  • Reliability: Published on NCBI, the source is likely peer-reviewed and provides a credible perspective on the use of 3D printing in healthcare settings.
  • Significance: It emphasizes the need for sterilization processes that are compatible with the materials used in 3D printing, which is crucial for the safe application of these technologies in medical procedures.

Vat Photopolymerization of Polymers and Polymer Composites

  • Citation: Nature - s41467-023-39913-4
  • Relevance: This article provides an in-depth look at vat photopolymerization and its applications, which is foundational knowledge for understanding the implications of sterilization on 3D printed parts.
  • Reliability: Published in Nature, one of the most prestigious scientific journals, this source is highly reliable.
  • Significance: The source discusses the technological advances in vat photopolymerization, which can inform the selection of materials and processes that are more resistant to sterilization-induced changes.


The importance of steam autoclave sterilization in the context of photopolymer resin 3D printing, stereolithography, vat photopolymerization, and polymer additive manufacturing cannot be overstated. The selected sources provide a comprehensive understanding of how steam sterilization affects the dimensional accuracy, mechanical properties, and overall integrity of 3D printed medical devices. They also highlight the need for careful consideration of material properties and sterilization methods to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these devices in clinical settings. The reliability and significance of these sources make them excellent references for researchers and professionals seeking to understand and improve the sterilization processes for 3D printed medical devices.