A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and Xi'an Jiaotong University and Zhejiang University in China have developed a new approach that significantly simplifies and increases the potential of four-dimensional (4D) printing by incorporating the mechanical programming post-processing step directly into the three-dimensional (3D) printing process.
The method enables high-resolution 3D-printed components to be designed by computer simulation, 3D printed, and directly and rapidly transformed into new permanent configurations via the use of heat.
The researchers found the new approach can help save printing time and materials by up to 90 percent, while completely eliminating the mechanical programming process from the design and manufacturing workflow.
"Our approach involves printing composite materials where at room temperature one material is soft but can be programmed to contain internal stress, and the other material is stiff," says SUTD's Zhen Ding.
From Singapore University of Technology and Design
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