4D Printing is a self re-configuring printing technique that utilizes special material to enable changes upon time. The fourth dimension of 4D Printing refers to the material that are able to change and mutate over time. The changes may occur upon exposure of water or air or change in temperature.
The technique of this type of technology enables designers to define characteristics of the material they are made from. To enable specific attribute and functionality the printed material goes through sophisticated chemical calibration.
Principle of 4D printing:
Different material properties when programmed into each of the various particles of the designed geometry and harnesses, the different energy/element absorbing properties of the materials triggers to activate the self-assembly process.
Application of 4D Printing:
- Fun toy like self-folding origami, self-folding Furnitures
- Designs of complex structures, Space shuttle or even the International Space Station
- Smart Water Pipes, with Self Healing Characteristics
- Medical Use and Organ Replacement
- Smart Bricks, Smart Rods that have healing capacity.
4D printing is expected to be used extensively in the future. In the developing stage , the ideas include the development of clothing that responds to environmental stimuli to maximize wearer comfort. The medical industry is also expected to make use of 4D printing as shape changing 4D prints are expected to be more compatible with the body than rigid metal supports.
The 4D Printing technique is an emerging market potential whose efficiency is expected to increase. This printing technology is still in the early phase and software and hardware are not yet to be established. The trend of 4D printing will be increase when industry sector and health sector will start using it.