Introducing 4D Printing

4D-printing is the new frontier of additive manufacturing. The process involves adding an element to the classic 3D printing method: time.

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4D printed objects, in fact, will have the capability of re-shaping or re-assembling over time as they get exposed to external stimuli such as mechanical forces, temperature or a magnetic field.

The main difference between 3D and 4D printing relies upon materials. Specific materials in fact, such as memory alloys, electroactive polymers or ceramics, have the characteristic of mutating their shape when the external temperature hits specific levels (either high or low), or when exposed to particular light sources.

4D printing methods differ from the classic 3D printing techniques in the way different materials are layered. It uses photopolymerization to cure the layers using ultraviolet light, which doesn’t harden them per se, as fused-deposition does, but allows more flexibility in their formation.

The combination of multiple layers of different materials allows 4D printed objects to react in a different way to environmental changes while retaining stability in their original state.

The application of this new additive manufacturing techniques is vast, ranging from the medical to the aerospace industry.



Categories: Innovation