4D Printing - 'Programming' Environmentally-Responsive, Active Parts
Through new multi-material additive manufacturing processes, researchers from ETH Zurich are locally tuning the material composition of structures and 'programming' the material to create parts that actively change their shape and reconfigure themselves after printing in response to the environment. Applications include deployable and active structures for architecture, soft robotics, space, and automotive. This is being termed '4D printing' to include the time domain. For example, the hierarchically designed structures transform between different, stable geometrical configurations using a multi-material, bi-stable joint while bearing predictable loads. Advantages include reduction in material and print time, as well as transport space and cost; applications include deployable and active structures for architecture, soft robotics, space, and automotive.