hydrogel medical devicesAs a package for implantable medical devices, hydrogel material holds enormous promise. The topic is showing up with increasing regularity in the research and medical development press. In 2016, the developmental focus was on flexible electronics. That is still an important technology, and advances will continue to be made. But in 2017, the focus is going to shift to hydrogels.

A hydrogel is a material that is comprised mostly of water (up to 90%), with molecule crosslinking giving the material the characteristics of a solid. Important for medical applications, hydrogels are biocompatible.

A recent article in Medgadget reported on how researchers at Columbia University were able to build millimeter-sized machines from hydrogel, with mechanisms and chambers that could hold and release drugs.

Another article reports on how MIT has been able to create a hydrogel robot that the developers believe could be used for surgery on fragile tissue.

Within five years, hydrogel machines and robots will move out of the lab and find practical applications on a commercial scale. Medical device designers should stay abreast of developments and begin to envision what hydrogel-based medical devices could become.