4-D printing (four-dimensional printing)

4-D printing is additive manufacturing that prints objects capable of transformation and, in some cases, self-assembly.

4-D printing is additive manufacturing that prints objects capable of transformation and, in some cases, self-assembly.

When a complex item is created using 3-D printing, the item is printed in parts that must be assembled. The purpose of 4-D printing is to reduce the total time needed to create a finished product by printing with materials that are capable of changing form or self-assembling with minimal human interaction. The "D" in 4-D printing stands for time -- more specifically, time saved.

The materials in a 4-D printed item are chosen to respond to a certain stimulus such as the transfer of kinetic energy from one medium to another. In such an example, the particles in printed material would start to bond together and change form when heat is introduced.  Another approach to 4-D printing involves programming physical and biological materials to change shape and change properties. 4-D printing is closely associated with nanotechnology, a branch of engineering that is also called molecular manufacturing. 

While 4-D printing is still very much in the experimental phase, it has the potential to eventually save a lot more than just time by opening the door for new kinds of assemble-at-home products. Because unassembled items created with 4-D printing would be flatter and easier to ship in large quantities, they would also save on transportation costs. The recipient would simply introduce the needed stimulus and assemble the end product without requiring directions.

This video from FW: Thinking explains more about the possibilities of 4-D printing.        

See also:  Amazon Prime air drones

This was first published in April 2014

Continue Reading About 4-D printing (four-dimensional printing)

Glossary

'4-D printing (four-dimensional printing)' is part of the:

View All Definitions

Dig deeper on Supply chain planning and execution

Pro+

Features

Enjoy the benefits of Pro+ membership, learn more and join.

2 comments

Oldest 

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchOracle

SearchDataManagement

SearchCRM

SearchSAP

SearchBusinessAnalytics

SearchSQLServer

SearchContentManagement

SearchFinancialApplications

Close