4D printing. Using 3D printing to create self-assembling structures

Skylar Tibbits is developing 4D printing at the Self Assembly Lab at MIT. “Parts come together on their own. There’s no sensors, no motors.” The self assembly can be triggered by heat, motion, pressure, water, and other stimuli. A possible application would be water pipes that expand, contract, and even pulsate to move water.

According to U. Pitt professor and principal investigator Anna Balazs, “Rather than construct a static material or one that simply changes its shape, we’re proposing the development of adaptive, biomimetic composites that reprogram their shape, properties, or functionality on demand, based upon external stimuli.”