4D printing will change our World
4D printing is one of the most exciting ideas of today’s technology. 3D printing is not enough anymore. We need something that we can print through space and time. The good news is that someone has just made it. MIT’s Skylar Tibbits has presented his work on 4D printing. What that actually means? It means printing objects that change their shape after they are printed. The idea is to print the raw material that folds into the shape of the final object like printing a sheet of paper that turns itself into origami. Basically it works by printing a long strand of plastic that is made of two different polymers that react differently to water i;e one expands and the other contracts. By mixing them intelligently the strand folds itself into the shape of the final object. Right now it only makes two tiny objects but the big idea that eventually will be able to send a huge printer down into the ocean that could build us a raft or up into space to build a space station. The other big advancement is the idea of environmental manufacturing. We won’t need to use tons of energy fuel or man-hours to assemble things anymore.
However there are some limitations right now. The folding only happens in one direction one-time. Tibetsts is hoping to make a polymer that will be constantly reacting. So you will be able to make things like water pipes that expand and contract which will eliminate the need for pumps. Imagine machines that have no moving parts to repair and don’t need any humans or computers to control them. This idea is the most exciting thing I have seen in a long time. Smart materials are going to change every object in the world around us. How awesome is that and what would be the first thing that you will do with one of these?