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Researchers develop 4D printing technology for composite materials

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Posted October 23, 2013

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have successfully added a fourth dimension to their printing technology, opening up exciting possibilities for the creation and use of adaptive, composite materials in manufacturing, packaging and biomedical applications.

 

A team led by H. Jerry Qi, associate professor of mechanical engineering at CU-Boulder, and his collaborator Martin L. Dunn of the Singapore University of Technology and Design has developed and tested a method for 4D printing. The researchers incorporated “shape memory” polymer fibers into the composite materials used in traditional 3D printing, which results in the production of an object fixed in one shape that can later be changed to take on a new shape.

“In this work, the initial configuration is created by 3D printing, and then the programmed action of the shape memory fibers creates time dependence of the configuration – the 4D aspect,” said Dunn, a former CU-Boulder mechanical engineering faculty member who has studied the mechanics and physics of composite materials for more two decades.

The 4D printing concept, which allows materials to “self-assemble” into 3D structures, was initially proposed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member Skylar Tibbits in April of this year. Tibbits and his team combined a strand of plastic with a layer made out of “smart” material that could self-assemble in water.

Read more at: Phys.org

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