Skylar Tibbits – not a name to forget, above and beyond its originality. This is the guy that is introducing the world to 4D printing. Yep, you read that right: FOUR  – it wasn’t a slip of the finger on the keyboard.

So, I’ll confess, I’m writing this post having not fully wrapped my head around the concepts involved. I’m hoping the writing process will go some way to helping with that, but we’ll see where we end up …..

Skylar is an architect, designer and computer scientist that is currently researching self-assembly technologies at MIT’s new Self-Assembly Lab — ultimately for large-scale structures in the physical environment. His recent presentation at TED2013 introduced 4D printing, and, if I am getting this right [Ed: feel free to challenge or correct at any point], the fourth dimension is the programming for self-assembly of materials into new structures, with the original 3 dimensions printed in the usual way on an Objet Connex machine using digital materials.

Apparently the Connex technology is central to the research – no other 3D printing process is viable with the fourth dimension. This is because the Objet Connex is still the only 3D printing process that works with multi material technology meaning that they (the materials) can be ‘programmed’ with different properties at the particle level within the 3D geometry, so that when they are submersed in water the different water-absorbing properties can thus be harnessed and subsequently activate the self-assembly process.

If you’re struggling with that – try watching the video. It helps ……. a little.

4D Printing: Cube Self-Folding Strand from Skylar Tibbits on Vimeo.

A full interview with Skylar, along with fashion designer Suzanne Lee, can be read on the TED blog.

Source: Objet Blog