Direct 4D printing via active composite materials

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Science Advances  12 Apr 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 4, e1602890
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602890


We describe an approach to print composite polymers in high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) architectures that can be rapidly transformed to a new permanent configuration directly by heating. The permanent shape of a component results from the programmed time evolution of the printed shape upon heating via the design of the architecture and process parameters of a composite consisting of a glassy shape memory polymer and an elastomer that is programmed with a built-in compressive strain during photopolymerization. Upon heating, the shape memory polymer softens, releases the constraint on the strained elastomer, and allows the object to transform into a new permanent shape, which can then be reprogrammed into multiple subsequent shapes. Our key advance, the markedly simplified creation of high-resolution complex 3D reprogrammable structures, promises to enable myriad applications across domains, including medical technology, aerospace, and consumer products, and even suggests a new paradigm in product design, where components are simultaneously designed to inhabit multiple configurations during service.

  • 4D printing
  • 3D printing
  • multifunctional materials
  • Active materials
  • active origami

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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