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“4D” printing paves way for self-assembling 3D-printed objects

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The advent of cheap 3D printing will soon have us all printing the objects we want at home from base materials rather than going out and purchasing finished products for considerably more money. But while 3D printing is only just starting to push into the consumer space, researchers at Georgia Tech are already focusing on the next big thing: 4D printing.

With 3D printing, the machine will print a solid 3D model, or different parts that you then combine into a larger 3D object manually. The material used is typically some form of plastic, but metal and wood can also be utilized. How 4D printing changes things is by using smart shape memory polymers as the base material. What that allows is for an object to be printed in flat-pack form and then self-assemble when required using some form of stimulus.

For example, you could 4D print a cube, but the initial 3D print creates an unfolded version using smart polymers. When it comes time to form the cube you stimulate the polymers with heat, light, or even moisture. Then stand back as the cube takes shape all on its own using precisely planned and controlled folding.

Because objects don’t immediately have to take on their final forms, they can be more easily packaged and shipped.

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Written by cabinettrends

October 6, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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