3D printing is turned into 4D printing with shape-shifting materials


3D printing is no longer a thing restricted to the rich and high-level companies. You can buy a 3D printer for your home and it’s so popular now that NASA is planning to use 3D printing to build spacecraft components in space via robots. However, despite the surge of 3D printing adoption, researchers are not resting on their laurels. Apparently, the next step is 4D printing according to MIT’s Skylar Tibbits.

Skylar Tibbits is primarily experimenting with materials that can pull together themselves once they’ve been printed. To make such a thing a possibility, the needed energy recipe is heat, water or movement. Once these elements come together, the printed materials will begin to assemble themselves right before your eyes.

What does this mean exactly? Well, if 4D printing catches on, you could print something and have it assemble itself without going through all the hard work doing it yourself. This technology also makes it possible for components to repair itself. It’s a very attractive idea, although it might force millions out of a job, but that’s the price we pay for the advancement in technology.

We understand the Army Research Office has given the team behind this idea a $855,000 grant to develop it into something worthwhile. Let’s hope they make 4D printing the next big thing, for it could change the world and our lives.

Hey, prepare for the day when robots will write articles on dotTech, which is read by other robots.

[via Harvard]

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