Researchers Create 4-D Printed Objects Assembled Using Only Heat

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created multiple 4-D printed objects made of plastic. Once heat is applied to these odd shapes, they come to life in ways you never thought possible.

You can see that the original form of this rose looks nothing like its end result. This opens up a multitude of possibilities in the design realm. You could create masterpieces from essentially nothing.

These shapes were created by a fairly inexpensive 3-D printer. This process is being called Thermorph. The printer makes these complex shapes by piling layers upon layers of thermoplastic.

“Though we used a 3D printer with standard hardware, we replaced the machine’s open source software with our own code that automatically calculates the print speed and patterns necessary to achieve particular folding angles,” the research team explains.

“The software is based on new curve-folding theory representing banding motions of curved area,” they added.

In its original form, the plastic piece is completely flat. This allows for easy storage until needed. Then, once you add the small image to hot water, it springs to life.

The research team behind it all explained that they believe they will soon have the means to make larger structures. They named a few such things like boats, chairs, satellites, and amazingly enough, small shelters. All of these things will be shipped flat and assembled by folding in the heat of the sun.

The team used a formula consisting of warp-prone materials and rubber-based products to create this new material that resists contraction. Now, they’re able to control how the process unfolds.

The group’s research was announced in late April at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. We hope to see great things come out of this particular project. The various objects this method can produce are basically endless. It would be a great way to get affordable and life-saving tools all across the world.

What would you like to see come out of this? Let us know in the comment section below!

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