Remember the old days when 3D printing was the new rage in town? The ability to not just print, but build your designs in three dimensions was nothing short of a dream. Humans had advanced to a unique new level. Stepping into the fantasy world of realizing your imagination in real time. The only missing element, if we could print out food from such printers. *drooling*
What is the Fourth D?
4D printing is just the added ability of 3D fibers to bend and change shape because of an external stimulus such as temperature, water, time, air etcetera.
The Working of 4D
Image Source: DimensionAlley
Today With the Connex 3D Printer, a simple one-dimensional fiber can change into a 2D or 3D shape. A 2D fiber can change into a 1D or another 2D or a 3D shape. And any 3D fiber can change into any other 3D shape. All this without the use of any external force. *Mind blown*. So basically, the fiber becomes an ever-morphing masterpiece.
Well, the prospects are tremendous. From non-electronic robotics to bio-compatible components, 4D fibers can transform the manufacturing scene. For instance, clothes and shoes that modify according to external temperatures, home appliances that respond to heat, healthcare implants that reshape without surgeon intervention. So on and so forth.
While the technology is still in a fetal stage, it has the potential to become the next big thing in material engineering. Imagine the possibilities. Your little black dress could become your little black bag.
Here’s a video about 4D Printing that will make you fall in love with the technology: