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4D Printing Self-Assembled Shapes Using Shape Memory Plastics4D Printing Self-Assembled Shapes Using Shape Memory Plastics

Ann R. Thryft

November 19, 2013

3 Min Read
4D Printing Self-Assembled Shapes Using Shape Memory Plastics

Last spring we told you about MIT's Skylar Tibbits, whose TED talk made the idea of 4D printing famous. The process self-assembles a 3D-printed object underwater using Stratasys's materials and its Objet Connex 500 Multi Materials inkjet 3D printer.

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. By incorporating shape memory polymer fibers into a matrix of the 3D printer's composite multi-materials, an object can be printed in one shape and change its shape later, such as self-assembling into a cube. The team, led by associate professor of mechanical engineering H. Jerry Qi, detail their work in an open-access article published in Applied Physics Letters. Other authors are postdoctoral research associate Qi Kevin Ge, and Martin L. Dunn, a professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.


About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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