4D Printing is Four-Dimensional Printing which can be said as an advanced version of 3D Printing Technology. To understand what 4D Printing is, first we should do a quick understanding of 3D Printing, so you can easily understand the terms of 4D Printing.
3D Printing is a process in which a machine produces layer by layer and creates a Three Dimensional Object with the help of a Computer in which we can design Complicated designs in CAD (Computer-Aided Design).
Now 3D Printing is used by various industries like media, consumer sectors, and even the Fashion Industry too, also the science field like mechanical engineering, etc.
During a TED conference in 2012, Skylar Tibbits showed the transformation in an object made by 3D Printing over time. It showed that 3D Printed Objects can be transformed into more complex structures. This gave a new dimension to the world of printing i.e time, and that’s how it got its name as 4D Printing. The Basic knowledge of 4D Printing is that the object doesn’t have a fixed shape, it can be reshaped with time with pre-programmed commands from the computer.
4D Printing in India: 4D Printing in India is taking big steps, and desiring to make something out of the box. Two researchers have developed two 4D Printed Prototypes, which they claim are the world’s first and strongest prototypes to date.
These Prototypes are embedded with Shape Memory Alloys(SMA) Ni-Ti and are made with PLA or Polylactic Acid Material. They have a compressive strength of 150MPa which is next equal to Concrete. These researchers are Bijaya Bikram Samal & Anita Jena under the Guidance of Prof. Debadutta Mishra from the Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology and they have created Biodegradable Materials. Such an amazing intelligence will reach heights in 4D Printing in India.
There is a method called “Reactive 4D Printing” that prints the object that can change shapes in response to changes in Temperature, Electric Current or Stress. Overcoming the limitation of fixed shape, this type of printing process is very extraordinary. The researchers say they needed a method to control and define changes in shape. The Alternative shapes are pre-programmed as said above, once two forms are programmed, the materials can easily morph back and forth and this is how the printed part changes shapes.
Application of 4D Printing: 4D Printing has been taking over many industries, even the US The military has even adopted the use of 4D Printing for their defense and protection. Like, 4D Printed Coating on Vehicles can change according to Environmental Change and also change accordingly. The Uniform of Soldiers is also made with 4D Technology which can change its shape after coming in contact with Sharp Objects. This Self-Assembled Technology can be game-changing during the war.
The 4D Materials can change and improve our day-to-day life. The printed products change according to the environment and surrounding conditions like temperature, moisture, humidity, and stress . Also, 4D printed materials take less space, so the shipping and labor can be done easily. These printed materials have the intelligence of Self Repair and also have the self capability.
They have maximum application in Space Technology. Even medical science has started adapting the use of 4D Printed Materials. 4D Printed Stents can be introduced into the body through a small opening and when it reaches the location, external stimuli can be applied to change its structure or shape to get desired results. The application of 4D printing has also taken a huge step into Robotics, many parts such as motors and sensors can be replaced with 4D printed materials, this can reduce the size of Robots.
Self-healing Pipes, Removing Errors in Construction, Self-healing Hydrogels, etc are some more applications of 4D Printing. This can also be used for artificial Organs in the Human Body.
This concludes that 4D Printing can do more advancement in many sectors and make human life much more advanced.