Rutgers engineers develop stronger microneedles with 4D printing

<p>Howon Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said the microneedles will help administer drugs and heal wounds.&nbsp;</p>

Howon Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said the microneedles will help administer drugs and heal wounds. 


Rutgers engineers have recently developed tiny needles through 4D printing to imitate parasites that attach to skin, and they may be able to replace hypodermic needles, according to an article on Rutgers Today.

The study that led to this development was printed in the journal “Advanced Functional Materials.” Daehoon Han, a Rutgers doctoral alumnus, and Riddish S. Morde, a Rutgers master’s alumnus, were 2 of the 3 co-lead authors of the study.

As opposed to 3D printing, 4D printing involves the use of materials that are programmed to change shape after printing, according to the article. 

“We think our 4D-printed microneedle array will allow for more robust and sustained use of minimally invasive, pain-free and easy-to-use microneedles for delivering drugs, healing wounds, biosensing and other soft tissue applications,” said Howon Lee, senior author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, according to the article.

The primary use for hypodermic needles is for drawing blood and injecting drugs in hospitals and labs, according to the article. These uses may cause pain, scar skin and even pose the risk of infection.

Microneedles are short and thin, making them less invasive than hypodermic needles, but their weak adhesion to tissue makes it difficult to use for controlled drug delivery or biosensing, according to the article.

Engineers at Rutgers created a microneedle that would instead interlock with tissue and enhance adhesion, according to the article. Through their use of a 3D printing technique with a 4D printing approach, they created backward-facing barbs on a microneedle.

The engineers used chicken muscle tissue to model their development and showed that their microneedle is 18 times stronger than the regular microneedle. This microneedle results in more stable and strong drug delivery, collection of biofluids and biosensing, according to the study.


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