4D Printing

Also known as metamaterial modeling, 4D Printing is a process similar to 3D Printing that precisely fabricates metamaterial objects that are able to change their shape in response to stimuli such as heat, moisture, or light.
Technology Life Cycle

Technology Life Cycle


Initial phase where new technologies are conceptualized and developed. During this stage, technical viability is explored and initial prototypes may be created.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Field Validation

Validation is conducted in relevant environments, where simulations are carried out as close to realistic circumstances.

Technology Diffusion

Technology Diffusion


First to adopt new technologies. They are willing to take risks and are crucial to the initial testing and development of new applications.

4D Printing

4D Printing is a fabrication process that, with the help of a 3D printer, constructs objects from materials such as auxetics, shape-memory polymers, and hydrogels that fall in the category of metamaterials. Metamaterials can alter themselves in response to their post-fabrication environment, for instance, changing their shape depending on their exposure to heat, cold, moisture or light.

One of the key benefits of 4D Printing is its potential to create objects that can self-assemble or self-repair. For example, a printed object may be designed to fold into a specific shape when exposed to heat, allowing it to assemble itself without the need for additional parts or assembly. Similarly, a printed object may be designed to repair itself when damaged by changing its shape or properties in response to a specific stimulus.

Another potential application of 4D Printing is in the field of medicine, where printed objects could be designed to respond to specific stimuli in the body, such as changes in pH or temperature. This could allow for the development of new types of medical implants or drug delivery systems.

This method enables the precise fabrication of dynamic structures, e. g. for the production of artificial muscles for robots, whole bodies for soft robots, or prosthetics. Other goods manufactured in this way include flat-pack furniture, drug capsules, and cardiac stents fine-tuned to respond to body temperature.

Future Perspectives

The overall manufacturing sector could drastically change as 4D Printing becomes cheaper and more accessible. For logistics, shape-changing packages could improve container capacity and even help deal with fragile or perishable cargo. Water management, construction, and manufacturing could benefit from responsive pieces and raise operational efficiency. In the fashion industry, 4D Printing could enable designers to develop products that perfectly fit the user's body.

Image generated by Envisioning using Midjourney

The combination of scientific advances in additive manufacturing (AM) and smart materials (SMs) has enabled the development of a new interdisciplinary research area: 4D printing. This technology offers – via stimuli-responsive materials – promising transformation capabilities to objects whether at the functional, shape, or property levels. By considering such capabilities, researchers from multiple disciplines have investigated a large spectrum of stimuli-SMs associations with proofs-of-concept built from either commercial or custom 3D printers. Despite the abundant initiatives, 4D printing requires additional developments to meet robust system applications for the industry. The paper aims to highlight the status, inherent barriers, and challenges of 4D printing to be addressed from a product-systems design perspective. It firstly reminds the fundamentals of SMs, processes, stimulus, and AM to which a synthesis of significant research works related to 4D printing highlighting the current status as well as scientific, technical, and organizational limitations is provided. Beyond this comprehensive study, the paper emphasizes opportunities and challenges from multiple perspectives and draws a research roadmap for engineering design and cross-disciplinary design. The outcome of the work tends to structure research efforts for the next decade towards the development of smart products that meet use for humans and the industry.
We describe an approach to print composite polymers in high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) architectures that can be rapidly transformed to a new permanent configuration directly by heating.
Engineers say new fabric could pave the way for adaptive exoskeletons or casts for broken bones.
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Over the past decade, 3D printing technology has been leading the manufacturing revolution. A recent development in the field of 3D printing has added time as a fourth dimension to obtain 4D printing parts. A fabricated design created by 3D printing is static, whereas a design created by 4D printing is capable of altering its shape in response to environmental factors. The phrase “4D printing” was introduced by Tibbits in 2013, and 4D printing has since grown in popularity. Different smart materials, stimulus, and manufacturing methods have been published in the literature to promote this new technology. This review paper provides a description of 4D printing technology along with its features, benefits, limitations, and drawbacks. This paper also reviews a variety of 4D printing applications in fields such as electronics, renewable energy, aerospace, food, healthcare, and fashion wear. The review discusses gaps in the research, the current challenges in 4D printing, and the future of 4D printing.
KEY FINDINGS The global 4D printing market is set to project a CAGR of 25.86% during the forecast period, 2019-2028. The major factors pushing the growth of the market are the surging demand for Industry 4.0, the emerging Industry 5.0, simple testing techniques, decreased cost of manufacturing & processing, etc. MARKET INSIGHTS 4D printing is a level-up to the 3D printing process, with time as the added dimension. In basic terms, a 3D-printed object would now able to reform in terms of shape in response to pressure, heat, and water. Manufacture involves prototyping, product testing, and designing. Industries prepare a prototype, replicating the design of the market. The 4D printing process entails the development of products capable of changing with respect to applied stimuli. This will aid in testing the product, which will further reduce the manufacturing and operation costs. It will result in companies testing their product under different conditions before it is made available. Manufacturing further entails post-production processes like packaging, batching, and storage. The 4D printed product will be less of hassle with easier pack-up, maintenance, and handling. Thus, 4D printing is projected to revolutionize the manufacturing process. The market growth restraints include the increasing development costs and lack of skilled personnel. REGIONAL INSIGHTS The global 4D printing market is geographically scrutinized on the basis of the assessment of Europe, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the rest of the world.North America dominated the global market in 2019, with respect to revenue share. The region benefits from a vast level of awareness in advanced technologies, along with companies prioritizing the transition from 3D to 4D printing. COMPETITIVE INSIGHTS The emerging market is attracting new and regional players as a result of rising penetration of the 4D printing technology. EnvisionTEC Inc, Autodesk Inc, Stratasys Ltd, CT Core Technologie Group, Hewlett Packard Inc, etc. are some of the eminent companies in the market. Our report offerings include: • Explore key findings of the overall market • Strategic breakdown of market dynamics (Drivers, Restraints, Opportunities, Challenges) • Market forecasts for a minimum of 9 years, along with 3 years of historical data for all segments, sub-segments, and regions • Market Segmentation cater to a thorough assessment of key segments with their market estimations • Geographical Analysis: Assessments of the mentioned regions and country-level segments with their market share • Key analytics: Porter’s Five Forces Analysis, Vendor Landscape, Opportunity Matrix, Key Buying Criteria, etc. • Competitive landscape is the theoretical explanation of the key companies based on factors, market share, etc. • Company profiling: A detailed company overview, product/services offered, SCOT analysis, and recent strategic developments Companies mentioned 1. STRATASYS LTD 2. AUTODESK INC 3. HEWLETT PACKARD INC 4. CT CORE TECHNOLOGIE GROUP 5. ENVISIONTEC INC 6. THE EXONE COMPANY 7. ORGANOVO HOLDINGS INC 8. ARC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR ELECTROMATERIALS SCIENCE (ACES) 9. MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
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4D printing has attracted tremendous interest since its first conceptualization in 2013. 4D printing derived from the fast growth and interdisciplinary research of smart materials, 3D printer, and design. Compared with the static objects created by 3D printing, 4D printing allows a 3D printed structure to change its configuration or function with time in response to external stimuli such as temperature, light, water, etc., which makes 3D printing alive. Herein, the material systems used in 4D printing are reviewed, with emphasis on mechanisms and potential applications. After a brief overview of the definition, history, and basic elements of 4D printing, the state‐of‐the‐art advances in 4D printing for shape‐shifting materials are reviewed in detail. Both single material and multiple materials using different mechanisms for shape changing are summarized. In addition, 4D printing of multifunctional materials, such as 4D bioprinting, is briefly introduced. Finally, the trend of 4D printing and the perspectives for this exciting new field are highlighted.
Two MIT researchers are at the forefront of revolutionizing fashion and empowering consumers.
Researchers from Rice University have created a material that can be printed in one shape and then change to another in response to environmental stimuli.
4D printing is an upcoming form of additive manufacturing with effects that continue beyond the print. It is similar to 3D printing  in the sense that an object is also built layer by layer. However, the object can then change over time, after being built. The object will change because it is printed with materials that have the ability to change when exposed to certain factors: such as heat, magnetics, water or another source of energy.
This project envisions a future desktop technology that prints actual programmable hybrid electro-mechanical devices from simple descriptions on-demand, anywhere, and with performance one would expect from a team of professional engineers, using advanced materials. The project aims to transform manufacturing as dramatically as the personal computer democratized information technology and transformed how we communicate.
Researchers have developed a novel method of 4D printing wearable medical devices that self-adjust to the anatomy of the patient.
A fast 4D-printing technique could be used to make drug capsules that snap open in the body or flat-pack furniture that puts itself together

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