While 3D printing resumes growing in popularity, many scientists are already examining the subsequent step – how to change their objects from one shape to another using 4D printing.
The term “4D printing” was first coined in the 1990s by scientists working on a new way to create objects using light. The process involved three dimensions, but they knew that it could be expanded to create more sizes if they could find a way to control the direction and amount of light that was hitting the object.
They eventually found a way to do this, and 4D printing became a reality. Today, this technology is early to create everything from prosthetic limbs to car parts.
4D printing has many benefits in the future, including creating complex objects that would be difficult or impossible to create using other methods. It’s also relatively cheap and fast; meaning can use it to produce small quantities of custom-made items quickly.
3D Printing vs. 4D printing
The item is constructed layer by layer from a base material, usually plastic or metal. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, takes a digital blueprint and turns it into a physical object using computer-aided design (CAD). The built-up layer by layer is from a base material, usually plastic or metal.
The method of 4D printing is basically the same – it uses the same 3D printers. The computer operates the same software to deposit material in subsequent layers until a 3D structure forms.
4D printing is designing objects that can change shape or form over time. This technology requires unique materials and customized designs built into the program, prompting the 3D printer to change its shape when triggered by a specific stimulus, such as heat, water, or light.
What Are the Benefits of 4D Printing?
One area in which 4D printing might be beneficial is biomedicine. Researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia demonstrated a water valve that closes when exposed to hot water and re-opens when it cools. It uses a hydrogel ink that responds rapidly when exposed to heat. While the study is still early, the team hopes it may apply in biotechnology and medical fields shortly.
In the US, a crew from George Washington University has created a unique 4D printable, photo-curable liquid resin – a renewable soybean-oil epoxidized acrylate compound – that can be utilized as a scaffold for bone marrow stem cell growth. Same way, a unit from the University of Georgia has created means to fabricate hollow self-folding tubes and maintain their diameters and architectures at high resolution operating shape‐morphing biopolymer hydrogels.
4D printed objects may also find use in:
- Architecture – Architects already use 3D printing to create custom parts for buildings. 4D printing could allow architects to create entire buildings from a single print. – Architects are already using 3D printing to create custom parts for buildings. 4D printing could allow architects to create entire buildings from a single print. Automotive Design – Cars are increasingly designed using digital models that can be easily manipulated and customized using 3D printers. By creating objects in this way, designers can save time and money by creating components that exactly match the design of the final car. – Cars are increasingly being designed using digital models that can be easily manipulated and customized using 3D printers. By creating objects in this way, designers can save time and money by creating components that exactly match the design of the final car.
- Transportation and shipping – Materials that can be tailored to specific environments and respond to factors like humidity, temperature, and pressure can be used in various applications. For example, 4D materials could be used in packaging to respond to the conditions inside the package.
- Fashion – imagine shoes that change how they fit depending on the activity or clothes that vary their composition depending on the weather.
- Implants – for humans and animals composed of biocompatible materials. Implants are medical devices that are used to replace a missing body part. Implants are made from biocompatible materials and in several different shapes and sizes. It can use to replace a lost limb, an artificial joint, or a missing tooth. Implants are often more durable than natural tissues and can provide long-term support for the body.
- Robots – Soft robots are machines that can start without support from an electric device. Soft robots are composed of rubber, plastic, and foam, making them flexible and lightweight. They can also move around quickly, making them perfect for tasks like picking up objects or shifting around in spaces where there is not enough space for a traditional robot.
- Smart Valve
These examples are the endless opportunities of 4D printing that can create several intelligent objects. It can bend, flex, expand or contract, fold up or out, or even disappear. The possibilities are endless!
The MIT Self-Assembly Lab is home to a project combining technology and design to invent self-assembly and programmable material technologies that can reimagine construction, manufacturing, product assembly, and performance.
4D Printing, developed as a collaboration between the Self-Assembly Lab, Stratasys and Autodesk, is a new process for printing customizable smart materials. 4D Printing entails multi-material prints utilizing the Stratasys Connex printer with the added capability of shape-transformation from one state to another, directly off the print-bed. This technique offers a streamlined path from idea to full functionality built directly into the materials, including; actuation, sensing and material logic. Potential applications include; robotics-like behavior without the reliance on complex electro-mechanical devices as well as adaptive products, garments or mechanisms that respond to user-demands and fluctuating environments.
With a single multi-material print, a product or mechanism can transform from any 1D strand into 3D shape, 2D surface into 3D shape or morph from one 3D shape into another. Using only water, heat, light or other simple energy input, this technique offers adaptability and dynamic response for structures and systems of all sizes.
Folding a flat-printed structure into another confirmation could allow larger designs to be printed on a smaller scale when placed in hot water. The lab is researching programmable wood, which could be scaled up for self-assembly furniture. Imagine a 4D-printed flat board that curls up into a chair by adding water or light.
What Types of Objects Can Be 3D Printed with a 4D Printer?
Conclusion: 4D printing is a revolutionary technology that has the potential to change the world. The innovation is in its early stages, but it is overgrowing. You can do many things with a 4d printer, including creating objects for use in everyday life, medical devices, and even vehicles.
4D printing is a technology that uses multiple layers of material to create an object. The first layer is printed using a standard printer, and then the second and subsequent layers are added using a special kind of 3D printer that can create objects in three dimensions. Can this technology potentially change the world by allowing people to make things without ordering them from a manufacturer.?
One of the most exciting things about 4D printing is that it has the potential to revolutionize how we make products. Rather than ordering items from a manufacturer, we could print them ourselves. It could be beneficial for medical devices and vehicles, where customizations are often required.?
There are still some limitations with 4d printing, but they are being addressed rapidly. One of the most significant limitations is that objects can only be created in a limited number of colors. However, this is being handled by companies such as 3D Systems, which has developed a 4d printer that can print in multiple colors.?
The potential applications for 4D printing are virtually limitless. It can revolutionize the way we make products, and it could even be used to create objects that are not currently possible to create with traditional manufacturing methods.? You need to know several things about 4D printing before deciding whether it is right for you. First and foremost, you need to apprehend what type of printer you need to use this technology.
There are two main types of printers: additive and subtractive. Additive printers use a particular kind of ink deposited onto the printed object. Do subtractive printers use a cutting tool that removes material from the thing being printed.?
- Additive: uses a particular type of ink deposited onto the printed object.
- Subtractive: uses a cutting tool that removes material from the printed thing.