Shape Memory Materials Introduced into 4D Printing Technology

Researchers made a breakthrough on Tuesday with 4D printing technology. They introduced shape memory composite materials and methodology that can be used have one shape printed using 3D printing technology but can metamorphose into another shape when placed under predefined conditions.

The announcement came from a team of University of Colorado Boulder researchers led by H. Jerry Qi who is the associate professor of mechanical engineering at the university. Also working with the team was Martin L. Dunn of the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

4D printing technology incorporates 3D printing and adds what is referred to as the element of time. It was first introduced by Skylar Tibbits earlier this year in April. Mr. Tibbits is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faculty.

At the time of Tibbits’ announcement, a strand of plastic along with the smart substance was presented. Its first stage was a long strand but after submersing it in water it folded to form the letters “MIT”. He also showed how flat plastic along with the smart substance can fold up into a cube when water is added.

Tuesday’s breakthrough incorporates the smart technology into 3D printing to make 4D printing. The objects are printed using what they call shape memory polymer fibers at one set of dimensions and can change shape by applying heat or cooling.

Advocates of 4D printing hold high hopes for this technology. They have proposed how water pipes could be printed using the shape memory material and then change on their own when capacity needs to be increase. They also proposed how these same pipes might be able to self-repair should a leak occur.

Other examples of putting 4D printing technology to use include self-assembling furniture and self-constructing space stations, skyscrapers, and bridges.

The technology could be used not only for expansion but for contraction as well. An example presented was material printed at one set of dimensions and then compacted so that it can be shipped and packaged cost effectively.

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Posted by on Oct 23 2013. Filed under New, Sci/Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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