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MIT, Autodesk & Stratasys are Working With ‘Secret’ Materials to Develop New 4D Printing Applications

By Sarah Anderson | 3DPrint.com

3D printing has come a long way since its inception in 1984. Today, we can print amazing things — from toys on home desktop 3D printers to replacement parts for hardware to advanced prostheses to living tissue. The array of materials available for printing is also widening, from standard plastic resins to chocolates to DNA. The next step for 3D printing, it seems, is to move into the next dimension.

We’ve already seen some promising implications for 4D printing, in which structures can change shape. A recently produced success, for example, was a fully wearable dress printed in one single piece, in a collaboration between Shapeways and Nervous System design studio. 4D printing has the potential to be a significant piece of the future of additive manufacturing.

4D printing adds time to the length, width, and height of the objects we’re already growing accustomed to seeing via additive manufacturing. With the addition of time (a stimulus), objects can become adaptable, changing structures: self-evolving structures, as researchers recently called them.

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