Enter Details

Comment on stories, receive email newsletters & alerts.

This is your permanent identity for Business Insider Australia
Your email must be valid for account activation
Minimum of 8 standard keyboard characters


Email newsletters but will contain a brief summary of our top stories and news alerts.

Forgotten Password

Enter Details

Back to log in

We Just Discovered What '4D Printing' Is, And Our Mind Is Blown

4d printingMIT

Citi just came out with a list of disruptive innovations that are going to change the world. The top thing on their list is ‘4-D printing.’ Obviously ‘3-D printing’ gets tons of hype, but we had never heard of the 4-D version until then.

The concept is the work of Skylar Tibbitsa researcher in MIT’s architecture department, in collaboration with Stratasys Ltd. and Autodesk Inc.

4-D printing takes “smart” materials from a 3-D printer that can assemble themselves.

So instead of just printing out a chunk of shaped plastic, you can actually create shapes that a fixed 3-D printing nozzle couldn’t accomplish. The potential uses for this range from extreme condition architecture to adaptive infrastructure, like pipes that expand and contract depending on water volume. There’s also potential in medicine: various implants could be inserted in a packed form, then take their true shape once they reach their destination.  

Tibbits has a bunch of amazing videos on Vimeo showing how 4-D printing works in the lab. 

We GIF’d them for maximum mind blowing.

The first two feature special materials that, when put under water, assemble into something else:

This one’s called Self-Folding Sheet.

Finally, a long strand that folds in water.

Here are the videos for the first two:

4D Printing: Truncated Octahedron from Skylar Tibbits on Vimeo.

4D Printing: Self-Folding Surface Cube from Skylar Tibbits on Vimeo.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn