3D Printing is also known as Additive Manufacturing which makes 3D printed models from a digital 3D modeling file. 3D printing technology has existed from almost 30 years now. 4D Printing is the future technology discovered in the tech world and its coming straight for the future.
What is 4D Printing?
4D printing (4 – dimensional printing) is also known as 4D bioprinting or shape morphing system.
4D printing is the process which uses the same techniques of 3D printing from making 3D printed parts from 3D models but it uses special materials and sophisticated designs that are computer programmed and the print can be able to change its shape. It is the process in which 3D printed objects which can be transform itself into another structure or shape. 4D printing adds the dimension of transformation over time.
4D printing technology is currently developed by many of the researchers, companies and industrial leaders. This technology is the part of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, Autodesk, Stratasys and many more.
Basically, 4D printing is a technology in which a 3D printed object can be transform into another shape by its own.
How does 4D Printing work?
4D printing technology uses commercial 3D printers. The input materials for 4D printing is known as a “smart material”. The smart materials could be thermo responsive materials, hydrogel or shape memory polymer. And these materials have thermo chemical properties or thermo/moisture responsiveness which works on the mechanism of shape memory effect and when the materials are comes in contact with moisture and object its properties will change into another shape. The printer can be 3d printed parts from smart materials and it has ability to change its shape and structure.
For example, there is a 3D printed object which is printed with a 3D printer. But imagine this object have properties that can change its shape into another object by its own. This is how 4D printer works.
Applications of 4D Printing:
Once the 4D printing technology fully develop it will widely use in industries, research purpose and tech world. The applications of 4D printing technology are as follows:
Aerospace companies will use this technology to developed a flexible metal fabric which can be use to build spacecraft and use for astronaut spacesuits. As it is an advance technology, it will also use for many applications in the aerospace industry.
4D printing technology also use in medical and healthcare sector to develop 4D printed airway splints that can automatically expand as per need and also use for 4D printed self folding protein.
Automotive companies developed an inflatable material which can change shape and size when triggered by air pulses. Also used in self repair system like if any of the part will bend or crack so it will change its shape previously by its own.
Fashion companies also used 4D printing to develop a self assembling shoes, clothes and wearable items. This technology will change the face of fashion industry.