"Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have combined 3D printing on the Objet Connex multi-material 3D printer with making shape-memory composites, calling that process 4D printing."
Ann, I won't think that's a 4D printing and it may need some clarity about 4D and 5D printing technology. Printing a 3D image of 3D object won't be defined as 4D printing. I heard that adding another dimension to 3D printing can lead to a 4D printing.
Mydesign, 4D printing is defined as 3D printing plus another dimension--time, which is commonly known as the fourth dimension. By "time" this usually means 3D printing an object that, because of characteristics of its material, then changes its shape over time. Personally, I think the designation is silly, which is why I didn't use it when reporting on Skylar Tibbits' work here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=260118 At the time of my report, his TED talk wasn't available, but you might want to check it out--we give a link in today's blog. The technology I'm reporting on here is using "4D printing" techniques to create self-assembling objects.
With the 4th dimension commonly accepted as time, the Title for this process is rather 'tongue-in-cheek', simply because it takes longer to produce the parts due to the added process of integrating the shape-changing elements. (not really aligned with Einstein's paradigm of X,Y,Z, & T as the 4th dimension; I think)
Then, on the topic of taking extra time to place those elements, the article didn't really describe much there. That's really the impactful content, isn't it-? The 'In-Process' integration of the shape-change material-?
RogueMoon, thanks for your comments. In the world of self-assembly R&D, the term is used correctly here in a general overall sense, although "self-configuring" or "self-reconfiguring" might be more accurate and specific. I still think the term "4D," although technically accurate, is silly and more hype than useful description.
This reminds me of MIT self-assembling cubed robots. The simple working principle of the cubed robot is its greatest strength. With no moving or connected parts the robot just uses the momentum generated from an internal fly wheel to leap and bound distances, and connects with other blocks using face magnets. What interests me even more are the potential applications for these self-assembling robots. Perhaps they could be used to build bridges or scaffolding systems for construction projects or be used for something as simple as spontaneous furniture that can take on many forms such a desk or a footrest.
Thanks for noticing the connection, Habib. We've covered the MIT work, both the recent big cubes (M- Blocks) http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=268858 and the earlier, somewhat different work with tiny ones http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=243258
You're welcome, Habib. I think your ideas about applications for the MIT cubes are interesting, but am concerned about whether the magnetic bonds would have sufficient strength for load-bearing uses. We discussed this in the comments section to the M-Blocks story. What do you think?
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