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Stratasys_MIT_Cubefolding_CombinedPhoto from Skylar Tibbits

MIT researcher Skylar Tibbits recently revealed some of his fascinating work in the field of self-assembling structures, coined “4D Printing”. The four dimensions in question here aren’t all spacial — the “4D” aspect utilizes three spacial dimensions, in the form of 3D Printing, and an additional time dimension. Skylar started the multi-disciplinary Self Assembly Lab at MIT and partnered with AutoDesk and Stratasys to develop software for simulating self-assembly and to improve the printing of these multi-material parts.

The video below portrays a sped-up version of the process, where the printed part is submerged in a water bath in order to facilitate self-assembly.

Skylar recently gave a great TED talk about the process, which you can watch here. Near the end of the talk, he touches on one of the most fascinating areas of potential for this technology – “self adapting water management systems”. Pipes built in this manner could act as infinitely-customizable valves or pumps, effecting flow and capacity by changing shape or even move the fluid themselves by undulating.

Where do you see this technology being used effectively in the future? Share your thoughts with us by commenting below.

Eric Weinhoffer

Eric is a Manufacturing Engineer at Other Machine Co., where he uses large machines to make smaller machines. When not building things, Eric enjoys skiing, cycling, and climbing.


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