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Home Industry News New ‘4D printing’ advance allows for creation of malleable, dynamic objects

New ‘4D printing’ advance allows for creation of malleable, dynamic objects

5th February 2018

Scientists have developed a new 3D printing innovation that allows for the creation of a smart gel that can reshape itself over time and in response to changing temperatures.

The Rutgers University team have created a new technique known as "4D printing", which involves printing a 3D object with a water-based hydrogel, which can remain solid and retain its shape despite the water content. 

By printing layers of a special resin, it is possible to give the object a strong structure, albeit one that can swell or shrink according to changes in temperature.

This could provide structural rigidity in organs such as the lungs, as well as allowing small molecules such as water or medications to be transported in the body and released. It could also support the development of new soft robotics, flexible sensors and actuators, biomedical devices, and platforms or scaffolds for cells to grow.

Howon Lee, assistant professor for the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said: "If you have full control of the shape, then you can program its function. I think that's the power of 3D printing of shape-shifting material. You can apply this principle almost everywhere."

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