A team at the Wyss Institute and Harvard SEAS has developed a new micro-scale printing method to create transformable objects. These “4D-printed” objects go a step beyond 3D printing to incorporate a fourth dimension–time.
The method was inspired by the way plants change shape over time in response to environmental stimuli. This orchid-shaped structure is printed with a hydro gel composite ink containing aligned cellulose fibrils, which enable an-isotropic swelling. A proprietary mathematical model developed by the team precisely predicts how the fibrils will swell in water. Continue reading