The Emergence of 4D Printing

João Paulo Miranda Lammoglia
March 12th 2015

The way we build our structures has become more and more sophisticated over the last decades. But the materials used are always static, waiting for us to fit them to the required shape. What if structures could assemble themselves and change form autonomously?

3D printing has been widely explored over the last years as well as Self-Assembly structures. However, the combination of both techniques is pushing the boundaries of our traditional manufacturing process and use of materials.

Skylar Tibbits, computational architect and researcher at MIT’s self-assembly Lab, is shaping this next technological development. He calls it 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time.

In this inspiring TED talk he presents the emerging technology that will allow us to print objects capable of reshaping themselves or self-assembling over time. Imagine printed buildings that can transform before your eyes, or printed pipes able to sense the need to expand or contract. This is just a beginning of a whole innovative world of manufacturing with minimum energy. Tibbits believes this technology could lead to more resilient, lighter structures, able to respond to the world around them.

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