Design Engine
Training Classes/Tutorials for Designers, Engineers, & 3D Professionals


Google+

Ideas, Thoughts, Perspectives

September 23rd, 2015

4D Printing May Help Create Self-Assembling Objects

While you’ve most likely heard of 3D printing before, scientists are now using 4D printing to create self-folding structures. This technology still employs 3D printing technology, but the components for 4D printing are made from smart shape-memory materials that, when in contact with heat, are able to assemble from a flat structure to a 3D shape.

Previous 4D printing methods required different degrees of heat to be applied to the material to stimulate the flat structure to change shapes. Jerry Qi, a Professor at Georgia Tech, explained, “To create sequential shape changing components involved placing multiple heaters at specific regions in a component and then controlling the on-and-off time of individual heaters. This earlier approach essentially requires controlling the heat applied throughout the component in both space and time and is complicated.” Now, by working on the molecular design of the materials, scientists are able to use the same all-over temperature for the entire process.

The materials used in the design of the flat structures are smart shape-memory polymers (SMP’s.) SMP’s are able to remember one shape and stay in that shape until stimulated to change shape. Meaning, each one of the structure’s components are programmed to change into another shape, but only when uniform heat is applied. The components all respond to the same heat temperate but change at a different rate based on their internal clock, to eventually become one full-assembled structure.

Yet, there is still a possibility for self-collisions for these self-folding objects. To reduce these self-collisions, Martin L. Dunn, a professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design, explained that, “A metric is developed to predict collisions and is used together with the reduced-order model to design self-folding structures that lock themselves into stable desired configurations.”

complex-self-folding-structures-3D-printed-shape-memory-polymers4

complex-self-folding-structures-3D-printed-shape-memory-polymers3

complex-self-folding-structures-3D-printed-shape-memory-polymers2

There are many applicable uses for this new form of technology. A popular suggested use for these structures is for shipping. Since the material used for 4D printing can be shipped flat or rolled up and assembled once arrived at a location, there could be a potential savings of space and money. Additionally, this technology could be used for creating space structures, deploying medical devices and even in robotics. Maybe in future, we can even develop drones that can change shapes for any mission…how awesome would that be?

What do you think, are there other uses for 4D printing?

Check out this cool video on the potential behind 4D printing.

 

Article Written by Mila Medonaite for Design Engine, September 23, 2015


About the Author

Design-Engine





Design Engine Industrial Design Training Pro Engineer
 
 

 

Proterra’s Electric Bus Breaks World Record, Traveling 1,102 Miles on A Single Charge

California-based company Proterra believes their electric buses could be another step towards removing our reliance on fossil fuels. Proterra’s Catalyst E2 Max Electric bus set a new world record for the longest distance trav...
by Mila Medonaite
0

 
 

Eviation Unveils All-Electric Private Jet

Eviation Aircraft released the first prototype of an all-electric airplane. Named the “Alice”, the zero-emission aircraft has the capacity to carry nine passengers and two crew members and has a range of roughly 600 miles. ...
by Mila Medonaite
0

 
 

The Proposed Improvements to Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive

A fresh set of renderings for the transformation of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive have been revealed. The new plan calls for a 70-acre park extending out into Lake Michigan as well as upgrades to the beaches at Oak Street and Oh...
by Mila Medonaite
0

 

 

Event Showcase: Humanscale’s “Beyond Sustainability” Discussion

The 4th floor of the Soho House set the scene for a thoughtful and compelling presentation about sustainability in furniture design. The presenter was Jon Strassner, Director of Workplace Strategy at Humanscale. A LEED Accredit...
by Bart
0

 
 

Elon Musk Believes Artificial Intelligence is The Biggest Threat We Face as a Civilization

Billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk sees artificial intelligence as the biggest threat to humanity. Musk, speaking at the National Governors Association on Saturday, explained, “There certainly will be job disruptio...
by Mila Medonaite
0

 



One Comment



You must be logged in to post a comment.