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Novel 3D printing method blossoms from botanical inspiration (wyss.harvard.edu)
44 points by bootload on June 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments

The name "4D printing" is misleading. Though, I'm not sure what I was expecting anyway.

An actual 4D printer could be trivial though. Just like the 3D printer discretize the height in several layers, the 4D printer would slice the fourth dimension in several hyper-layers and print a 3D object for each slice. We already have the software to create 3D slices out of 4D objects.

The trick will be to reassemble the slices into a 4D object :-)

Just looking at these cross sections could be interesting. Also printing the same object at different resolutions along the fourth dimension could be insightful.

There's more than one dimension- any real parameter is considered a dimension in this context.

In this case, as the PR specifically says, the fourth dimension is time: they are encoding a temporal path within the object.

Ok, we took one dimension away from the title above.

Would you mind adding it back? The press release specifically says that the fourth dimension is time. This is indeed a valid dimension, and I read the PR enough times to verify that they're not padding their claim.

"""...has evolved their microscale 3D printing technology to the fourth dimension, time."""

It's amazing that all plant behavior is actually governed by chemical reactions applied to "cleverly" constructed structures.

I suppose the next step would be desinging a structure that responds independently to two or more types of stimuli at the same time.

For example, a leaf-like object that bends in the Y direction in response to humidity and in the Z direction in response to light.

> It's amazing that all plant behavior is actually governed by chemical reactions applied to "cleverly" constructed structures.

Unless I'm missing something, this describes all behavior above the subatomic level, plant or otherwise.

Animal behavior is governed by brain activity, which is electrical. (Yes, there is some chemistry involved too, but it's secondary).

Pretty sure that printing a 2D or 3D model that is responsive to external changes is not a new thing; recall a material that takes two forms based on an electric charge.

"Novel method" doesn't mean something similar has never been done, it means it has never been done this way.

By aligning cellulose fibrils during printing, the hydrogel composite ink is encoded with anisotropic swelling and stiffness, which can be patterned to produce intricate shape changes. The anisotropic nature of the cellulose fibrils gives rise to varied directional properties that can be predicted and controlled.

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