What is 4D Printing?

You may feel like 3D printing has only just appeared on your spectrum. I was astonished to realise that 3D printing has actually been around for 30 years, only becoming more mainstream recently due to the huge reduction in cost - you can now get a 3D printer for your home for under £300…see here.

4D printing is the newest technology to emerge.

On paper 4D and 3D printing are not so different – both require the use of additive manufacturing, and a printer that can print in the third dimension, however the fourth dimension to consider is time.

The video below offers a short explanation of the concept;

https://www.ted.com/talks/skylar_tibbits_can_we_make_things_that_make_themselves?language=en

The difference between the two techniques occurs over time, with 4D printing involving the use of “smart” materials, which, after being printed will change over time e.g. water pipe that can expand under high pressure.

There are a number of applications for this concept – and the biomedical world are excited by the prospect of an implantable device that can change function and/or shape without having invasive input from a surgeon.

Whoever said print was a perishing industry obviously hasn’t realised the full potential of print.

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