4D Printing – multimaterial with Tailorable Shape Memory Polymers
Does additional dimension makes a lot of difference? Yes it does and in this article we will investigate what is 4D printing and how is it better to 3D one. 4D printing allows materials to be “programmed” to change its specific shape and form under different environmental conditions such as hot, cold, wet and or dry. This allows printed components to be used for wider variety of applications. Where there is a need to use components that have elastic properties or change their behavior dependent on different conditions. These materials can also react to electricity which opens broad opportunities for components to be controlled by humans or computers at many more conditions rather than just heat or cold.
A man who actually came up with the idea of 4D printing Skylar Tibbits, applied this technology with a sheet of plastic. In result he created a programmable sheet material that when submerged in water it can assemble itself to make up a shape of cube. This is just one of example how this 4D technology could be interpreted in day to day applications. Things like self assembling structures where you no longer need to read instructions – you just apply certain environmental conditions and your work is done.
How this can change our future?
This technology has ability to change structural design to give them properties that can restore themselves after being damaged. It can be applied not only to everyday objects, but to buildings and or street objects such as fencing or lamp posts. 3D printing improved tremendously over the years and has been used more and more with better and better materials. 4D printing can increase the speed of industry production and quality, making products cheaper and of better quality. Which I believe is the most important things for everyday user.
You can read more about it here.