If you think 3D tech trend for healthcare is interesting, check out 4D printing technology

A new Frost & Sullivan report calls attention to a new chapter in printing technology making its way into healthcare called 4D printing. The biggest difference from 3D printing is 4D involves technologies that alter the properties and behaviors of objects such as external stimuli such as changes in temperature. They can also, to a […]

A new Frost & Sullivan report calls attention to a new chapter in printing technology making its way into healthcare called 4D printing. The biggest difference from 3D printing is 4D involves technologies that alter the properties and behaviors of objects such as external stimuli such as changes in temperature. They can also, to a certain extent, assemble themselves. Think artificial tissues, bioprinting, smart sensors, nanotechnology and artificial organs.

The technology is still in its early stages, according to the report. Rapid prototyping technology for large-scale applications and physical object manufacturing hasn’t been widely tested and it’s so expensive that it’s not really at a point where it’s practical for anything beyond research. Still the authors of the report are excited by the applications of 4D printing for healthcare.

“The potential of this technology to create programmable biological materials that can change shape and properties can be a foundation for enabling smart pharmacology, personalized medicine, and programmable cells and tissues that could be employed in precisely targeted treatments for a number of diseases.”

The report notes that private companies in the U.S., such as Stratasys and Autodesk, have established a partnership with MIT to support research in the field. 4D printing was also the subject of a TED talk earlier this year by Skylar Tibbits — the director of MIT’s Self-assembly Lab and a TED Fellow (embedded above).

The closest example of 4D printing technology I could find are the life sciences innovations under development at Autodesk through its bio nano group. How about creating viruses that can kill cancer? Andrew Hessell of Autodesk’s bio nano group discussed some of its work in this video from Bloomberg Businessweek. “The more we can grow the things we need as human beings, the more we can keep things sustainable,” he said in the video. “I have been learning how to use print technologies to make viruses that allow us to do positive things with them, like hunting down cancer cells and killing them.”