4D multi-material printing with potential in tissue engineering
From tiny cages carrying drugs inside the body to custom-designed transplants 'printed' out of a patient’s cells, 3D printing is changing modern medicine. Researchers are now looking towards the fourth dimension – time. Here tiny looping 'ribs' of different silicon-based inks are piped in a careful overlapping design – all thanks to a mixture of mathematics, computing and materials science. Each ink responds differently to changes in temperature, growing or shrinking over time – the flat layers of ribs can be triggered to pull themselves into a pre-defined 3D shape. This particular design is the face of Carl Friedrich Gauss, whose geometry inspired the technique. In the future, though, similar principles couple be applied to tissue engineering, or prosthetics – creating shape-shifting designs that adapt to their environment and purpose over time.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.