Self-Assembling, 4D-Printed Objects

This collaboration between 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys and MIT's Self-Assembly Lab was recently demonstrated at TED2013 by Skylar Tibbits, a TED fellow and head of the MIT lab. Tibbits suggested the technology might be used to install objects in hard-to-reach places such as underground water pipes. The research team has proposed that the fourth dimension is time, and that over time objects transform and adapt. The process uses a Stratasys 3D printer that creates multi-layered materials. It combines a strand of standard plastic with a layer made from a 'smart' material that can absorb water. The water acts as an energy source for the material to expand once it is printed.