The tech hype from today is definitely 3D printing, but in a highly changing world technology never ends where the hype is. Therefore, we decided to add a number to the D and find out what 4D printing is about.
In February last year, technician Skylar Tibbits gave a speech at TED about so-called 4D printing. His speech is something interesting and inspiring and you can see it in the video below.
But what is 4D printing? In short, 4D printing comes down to adding a fourth dimension to 3D printing. As we all know, 3D means a having a shape with depth, or in a slightly more difficult language: a shape with X, Y, and Z lines. When we’re talking about 4D we simply mean a 3D shape with the addition of time. Check out the example below:
So what can we do with the addition of time to 3D printing? As Tibbits points out in his video, 4D printing can open a whole new world. We could build objects that can transform into different shapes, but it could also become possible to create things that can construct themselves. For instance, think about a service pipe with the ability to feel if it needs to grow or shrink. This could be useful in weather cases where there’s an overflow of rain, so the water pipe could temporarily grow. Another given example is a 3D printed square that turns into a cube.
The interesting thing about subjects such as 4D printing is also that there are more dimensions that could be added to the D. To be more precisely, there are 11 dimensions. There are people who speculate about the fact whether humanity will start to use other dimensions as well in the next centuries, not whilst called printing anymore, but whilst called generating.
What do these dimensions include? 5D already starts very spacey and has the description: another possible reality caused by choice and chance. However, 6D is the superlative degree and means being able to jump between one reality and another. Then the following dimensions deal about jumping from one dimension to the other and 11D ends the list with the description of “being able to jump between the infinite amount of universe and realities”.
But is that future talk or futuristic nonsense? We will probably never know, as it’s simply impossible that anyone of this generation will be alive in 2300. what we do know, is that 4D printing could add something to the game of 3D printing techniques. In the mean time, watch this video by Kinematics, a new 4D printing system:
Credits image: Kinematics.