How 4D printing gives additive manufacturing a temporal dimension

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4D printing is the type of technology that could give new answers in a world where flexibility and adaptability are the watchwords of transformation. This kind of additive manufacturing creates items with “behaviour,” which are adaptive enough to evolve (the fabled fourth dimension), and which could be particularly useful in dealing with environmental challenges.

While 3D printing’s enormous creative potential has yet to be completely realized,

some scholars are already discussing how 4D printing will change the future.
According to Peri, a formwork manufacturing and distribution firm, Skylar Tibbits, coordinator of the Self-Assembly Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is one of the early pioneers in the discipline.

Due to the features of 4D printing, it is feasible to print material that can be manipulated, converted, or relocated. As a result, the object created with 4D printing will be able to adapt to its surroundings over time.

This might be a blessing in a fast-changing world, as well as a way to address mobility, infrastructure, health, and environmental issues.
In an essay for The Conversation, Conrad Mastalerz, a PhD student in materials science at France’s Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, outlines the practical applications of 4D printing.

He explains that 4D printing will allow this 3D-printed prosthetic to adapt and alter shape after a study effort on prostheses to alleviate an issue with natural bone regeneration.

“In other words, an external trigger may cause a 4D-printed object in the shape of a bud to bloom into a flower,” he says in the article. “This work would make it possible to obtain a prosthesis with qualities similar to bones at a lower cost and in a shorter amount of time, and that would fade without leaving any trace over time, leaving only the bone,” the researcher concludes.

Overcoming obstacles

However, when it comes to designing these transformable items, the design process is fraught with difficulties.

“Work is required to properly blend material, processes,

and functionality in such activities. In Polytechnique Insights, Giancarlo Rizza, a CEA researcher specializing in 4D additive manufacturing, writes, “As well as develop a methodology based on the triangle of design-modelling-simulation so that the printed product responds in an acceptable way to environmental stimuli.” The challenge is creating an item with “behaviour” that can respond to external stimuli in the way that is desired. Before this technology gets widely used, there is still a long way to go.
Another point raised by expert Giancarlo Rizza is that the originality of this technology necessitates the development of successful products and economic models to assist it to break out of the realm of science.

Source: AFP Relaxnews

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