Friday, 01 May 2015

4D Printing - What does that even mean?

Who knew there was a fourth dimension? Apparently “the fourth dimension is time, shape shifting in fact,” according to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science who have created a 4D printer.

The printer builds objects that have the ability to change based on the physics of the materials used, such that “3D printed materials…morph into new structures, post production, under the influence of external stimuli such as water or heat” said the ARC team in a release.

“So, as in 3D printing, a structure is built up layer by layer into a desired shape, but these new materials are able to transform themselves from one shape into another, much like a child’s Transformer toy.” Once printed, these structures can alter themselves in response to an increase in water temperature. For example, the materials scientists have created a valve that shuts down when hot water hits it.

“The cool thing about it is, is it’s a working functioning device that you can just pick up from the printer” says ACES Professor Marc in het Panhuis. “There’s no other assembly required.”

The researchers expect these printers to help advance science in the fields of medicine, construction and robotics, to name a few. To read more, you can view the release here.