4D Printing and Beyond

A revolution in robotics is coming. It’s called 4D printing, a step beyond 3D printing, and it’s already being used in manufacturing, but its uses extend into various subfields of robotics.

The technology uses color-sensitive and heat-sensitive gel and can expose 3D printed materials to light and heat in order to shape the materials into something new. Time is the fourth element.

Possible 4-D Printing Image

This is an amazing breakthrough because it could make robots more malleable so that they could bend more easily. Imagine a robot that has hands and fingers that bend.  Theoretically someone could develop this type of robot to work in different job fields that involve repetitive or monotonous tasks. Some fields in which robots could work include jobs that involve gripping something or using subtle hand motions, such as: directing vehicle traffic or airplane traffic, playing more types of sports – basketball, tennis, bowling, and others – and performing more difficult tasks in the factory. Engineers could also develop robots that can practice shaking hands with and practicing other grips with someone who is recovering from a hand injury or hand weakness.


Imagine playing a game with a robot on those days that you didn’t have anyone else with which to play. In a game like tennis, in which it is almost vital to play with someone else to improve, you could improve your skills much faster by playing with a robot than you could by simply practicing your serve or by not playing or practicing whatsoever. If it was programmed to speak, it could even complement every good shot you made.


4D printing is a technology that will change almost every aspect of manufacturing and robotics. This technology will quickly and dramatically transform the way our world appears and functions.


Source cited:


Crouse, Megan. “‘4D Printing’ Could Make Robots Bendier.” Manufacturing.net. N.p., 16 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 Jan. 2016. <http://www.manufacturing.net/news/2015/12/4d-printing-could-make-robots-bendier>.