3D printers are popular across the world for their capability to
build materials based on the design input. Many research facilities, general
places, etc. have used this technology to develop the best models possible
either to experiment or use. However, there is a limitation to 3D printing
technology i.e. rigidity. The models developed through these printers are not
capable of flexibility and they acquire the shape destined beforehand. This is
a huge setback as the objects cannot be moulded or modified to create another
shapes or used as components.
The 4D printing technology is a step beyond its predecessor as it
can print objects that can shift their shapes. How? Researchers have developed
a material that would react to water and these materials will shift shapes when
touched with water. They will regain their former position if required.
The material is self-reconfiguring and programmable so that the
users can input any shape and the shape can be achieved easily. The behavioural
change of the 4D material is very useful to all the fields.
For example, water pipes
created with the 4D printing technology can expand while in contact with water.
This means that the pipes would grow to the end of the farm without human
intervention and supplies water to every corner. Further, they will gain the
capability of regenerating whenever there is a leak in the pipe.
In simple words, the material would act as living cells and this
behaviour is incorporated by the programming of the printer. The research team
at MIT have created a convertible plastic box using the 4D technology and are
swiftly concentrating on creating other shapes and objects. The most important
thing is the 4D objects do not need computer monitoring after printing. They
work on their own as a mechanical being and do as programmed. Once the ideas
are setup, this technology will hit the world with a storm.