NewsDate: 15-01-2018 by: Tiffany Won


3-D printing is being used for various research purposes however, I think it is time to move over it with 4-D.

3-D printing generally involves layers of material formed under computer control to form an object. Many techniques and various materials are used for the printing. Hence, it is also being referred as additive manufacturing for broader sense. But now it looks like the days of even 3-D printing is over.

Skylar Tibbits and researchers from the firms Stratasys and Autodesk Inc, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a process. The code turns objects into smart objects. These smart objects can self-assemble or change shape when there is a change in its environment.

Basically, in 4-D printing, the code sets the direction, angle and number of times at which a material can bend or curl. Whenever a change in environment is sensed by the material, it can be stimulated to change its shape. The main approach was to print 3D structures using materials with different properties: one that remained rigid and another that expanded up to 200% of its original volume.

The concept to listen to sounds pretty cool and in some cases is already happening. Tibbits stated that nanotechnology is one field where scientists have been able to do so. Where in the program physical and biological material to change their shapes and properties. However, the same as the human level may not be possible in the near future.

4-D and 3-D printing can/are being used in many spheres:

  1. Army:The US Army has already given rights to a few universities in the US to work on how this printing can be used in defence.
  2. Construction:Bricks can be designed such that they can change theirs according to the stress that is being applied to them.
  3. Athletic wear:Shoes that would adjust themselves according to the way we walk or run.
  4. Automobile:some companies have started to manufacture few parts using 3-D printing process.

3-D printing is already helping in so many new innovations. It won’t be a surprise to see how well 4-D printing would fare when it arrives. The concept is already capturing the interest of various scientists. And hopefully, 4-D printing will be the thing of the not-so-far future.




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