Four-dimensional printing - materials themselves are assembled in the form you need

Published on March 01, 2013

Four-dimensional printing - materials themselves are assembled in the form you need

    While most of the world is gradually getting acquainted with 3D printing and its products never ceases to amaze us, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are already developing the technology of four-dimensional printing. The project manager is Skylar Tibbits, a professor at the MIT Department of Architecture who founded the Self-Assembly Laboratory under him.
    In the laboratory, time is viewed as the fourth dimension and Tibbits' projects are designed to respond to energy and temporal changes. The developers say that the 4D printer does not print a specific image, but a certain “chain” of many materials. By your will of a predetermined technology, this “chain” changes shape. Shapes take a new shape when exposed to heat, electricity, light or sound. For example, it is presented how an object changes shape under the influence of water. Technologically, the formation process can be compared with a children's toy that swells if immersed in water. First, fibers are printed from various materials. Then these fibers are placed in water and already there they can apply a different shape depending on the location of the materials in the chain.

    So far, scientists have presented only the simplest objects, such as a cube or capital letters MIT. But Skylar Tibbits hopes that this is only the beginning and that self-assembly technology will find application in various fields of science and technology. Among the applications there may be construction and aerospace and furniture production. Imagine that there are adverse conditions in which the construction of an object is difficult due to many factors or an orbital station, where the possibilities are even more limited. And here self-assembling objects can come to the rescue, which form the desired structure under the influence of certain conditions.

    In order for the object to take the programmed shape, you need to “teach” the joints to bend at given angles when exposed to environmental conditions that trigger the self-assembly process.

    Tibbits calls this discovery a fundamental shift in the development and creation of adaptable things that can "think" on their own. For understanding, imagine robots without motors and wires.

    [ Bbc ]