Controlling implant shape remotely: 4D printed materials for improved health and medical applications


Ebrahim Mostafavi
Thomas J. Webster


The objective of this study was to develop 4D printed materials for biomedical applications. 4D printed materials are materials which can change shape over time and on-demand upon exposure to external stimuli (i.e., heat, humidity, light, etc.). Here, a simple cytocompatible material is presented which can change shape in a controllable way when heated to body temperatures (37 °C), retain that shape at room temperature, and then change into its original shape when heated again to 37 °C. As an in vitro proof of concept for the promise of 4D printed materials, this present in vitro study examined stem cell delivery to treat neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease). Specifically, this material was seeded with model neurons (PC-12 cells), underwent a shape change from a flat shape suitable for cell culture to a tubular shape suitable for cell delivery and back to a flat shape showing no change in PC-12 cell number or neurite extensions per neuron, thus, demonstrating its suitability as a novel stem cell delivery device. This is in contrast to conventional cell delivery techniques which can significantly decrease cell viability by up to 70% due to the use of harsh enzymes (such as trypsin) needed to lift cells from flat tissue culture polystyrene to an injectable form. Although requiring more study, such 4D printed materials can also be used to straighten the spine of scoliosis patients, close aging weakened sphincters to treat acid reflux, and for the on-demand increase in pressure to regenerate intervertebral disk tissue for spinal applications, among many other applications.   




How to Cite
Mostafavi, E., & Webster, T. J. (2022). Controlling implant shape remotely: 4D printed materials for improved health and medical applications. Research Journal in Medical and Health Sciences, 3(1), 31-39.

How to Cite

Mostafavi, E., & Webster, T. J. (2022). Controlling implant shape remotely: 4D printed materials for improved health and medical applications. Research Journal in Medical and Health Sciences, 3(1), 31-39.


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Webster, T. J., & Mostafavi, E. (2022). 4D printed materials for improved health and medical applications (YouTube video). Retrieved from