4D Printing

4D Printing technology: a renovation of 3D printing

3D printing is moving into the next dimension, 4D printing also known as adaptive additive manufacturing. 4D printing is attribuited to objects that change their shape over the time.  Such materials are called smart materials and react upon external stimuli such as stress, temperature, pH, moisture, electric or magneric fields. They include smart metal alloy, self-healing polymers, dielectric elestomers.

Smart materials can find applications in different fields such as industrial manufacturing, healthcare, military, robotic, consumer, aerospace and automotive industry.

The interest shown by scientists to produce 4D printed objects is increasing.
A group of researchers at MIT together with Autodesk and Stratasys are working in order to develop affordable and innovative 4D printing applications. In particular, they are combining different types of polymers and fibers that are able to change their shape when receive a stimulus like heat or water.

4D is a still-nascent technology but its prospects are pretty enticing.

The Cube Self-Folding Strand is an example of 4D printing from a collaboration of the Self-Assembly Lab with MIT, Stratasys Ltd. and Autodesk Inc.