Skylar Tibbits, an architect, designer and computer scientist presented a new concept in February 2013: 4D printing. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Just imagine, a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract.
Can we create objects that assemble themselves — that zip together like a strand of DNA or that have the ability for transformation embedded into them? These are the questions that Tibbits investigates in his Self-Assembly Lab at MIT, a cross-disciplinary research space where designers, scientists and engineers come together to find ways for disordered parts to become ordered structures.
Using the unique Objet Connex multi-material 3D printing technology from Stratasys Tibbits is able to program different materials properties into each of the various particles of the designed geometry. When using some materials with different water-absorbing properties he could just program them to activate the self-assembly process.