4D is the Next Big Thing in Printing Customizable Smart Materials
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have used a `smart ink’ made from soybean oil, polymers and carbon nanofibers, which could be “programmed” into a temporary shape at an engineered temperature, determined by the chemical composition. With this, the researchers demonstrated that 3D print objects can change shape when heated using an electrical current or with ambient air temperature. They can even be folded and unfolded. This process of 3D objects being capable of changing shape is actually known as 4D printing in the additive manufacturing industry. This technology finds extensive use in healthcare industry, in aerospace for solar arrays or antennae that can unfold and also for flexible circuits and robotic devices.