MIT Presents A Revolutionary Technique Of 4D Printing (+VIDEO)
Skylar Tibbits, computer scientist and director of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, has unveiled an innovative technology at the recent TED conference. The matter concerns 4D printing, which has been created in collaboration between Stratasys’ Education, R&D departments and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab. It involves printing 3D objects that change after they’ve been printed — a self assembly process whereby printed material forms itself into another shape after being subjected to an energy source, e.g. heat, electricity, light, sound, or as Skylar Tibbits showed in his demonstration, submersion in water. Objet Connex multi-material 3D printing technology is a part of the process, which enables you to program different materials properties into each of the various particles of the designed geometry and harnesses the different water-absorbing properties of the materials to activate the self-assembly process. The clue to 4D printing is to utilize materials with known reactions to energy sources, and to program and control their reactions to water, heat, and other desired variables with tools like AutoDesk. By creating strands and pieces of material with specific sized links, Tibbits can predict just how they will fold and join together when reacting to the energy catalyst, like in the cube. Tibbits claims this technology may revolutionize the way things are made, just consider materials that can be printed and sent to harsh environments for self-construction — e.g. underwater labs or research stations in space.