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4D printing makes objects that assemble themselves when heated

Added by David Hill on April 22 2017, at 5:48 am
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  • A new 4D-printing technique that creates complex structures in minutes could be used to make temperature-activated cardiac stents, drug capsules and flat-pack furniture.

    4D printing creates 3D objects that change their shape over time in response to stimuli such as heat, moisture or light. It is useful for making structures that can adapt to their environment, but is often a laborious process. The most common materials used in 4D printing, shape-memory polymers, normally require at least five steps to make them into adaptable objects. Hydrogels are simpler to use, but too soft to fashion into rigid structures.

    Zhen Ding at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and his colleagues have now developed a way to rapidly print rigid 4D objects with a commercial 3D printer and a heat source.




    They created a variety of objects, including a delicate flower that closes its petals, a flat star shape that morphs into a dome, and lattices that contract and elongate. The structures were made from flat 3D-printed strips that were then heated to make them curve.

    The strips, which can be printed in less than a minute, are made from layers of a stiff shape-memory polymer paired with a rubbery elastomer – a polymer with elastic properties.

    When heated to 45°C, the shape-memory polymer component relaxes and allows the elastomer to bend. As the strip cools, the shape-memory polymer stiffens again and locks the object into its new, curved configuration.

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  • ChristopherJames

    Technology has done it again and today, we are gifted with 4D printing. I have heard of various success stories involving this new technology. The disabled getting a new 4D arm, fixing on a new 4D leg and so on and so forth. There are many different groups of people that this new technology can be helping.

    May 8
  • michaelmaloney

    If ever I were to own a 4D printing machine, I reckon I would be truly amazed with the technology that I would start printing things that I do not actually need. I might just end up having too many printed things in my storage unit as a collection only. I guess you would really need a real purpose to utilize this advanced technology to your advantage.

    May 6
  • UdyRegan

    I would very dearly like to see this 4D animated product in action. I can't quite wrap my head around how this would work and I would definitely be able to believe that it's possible when I actually see the actual sequence of the process.

    April 30
  • Denny Herrera
    Denny Herrera

    Zest Printing Services include a selection of quality booklet Printing Services options for catalogues, programs, training manuals, technical manuals, diaries, record book resources and many more.

    April 25