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General Knowledge

3D and 4D Printing Technology

3D and 4D Printing Technology

Though the technology is popular, there may be few who are new to the 3D and 4D Printing Technology. Let us know some basics of 3D and 4D Printing Technology which are widely used in Prototype Development and Construction.

3D Printing

3D Printing is a technique of constructing a three-dimensional object from a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Digital 3D Model. It is basically done by depositing material, joining or solidifying under computer control. Material is added together layer by layer. Plastic, Liquid or Powder grains are being fused in the process. In the beginning, the 3D Printing Technology, was considered only suitable for making prototypes. By now the 3D Printing Technology has gained wider use and used for building construction and industrial production. 3D Printing is also called as Additive Manufacturing Technology. Using 3D Printing, we can construct complex shapes which otherwise will be difficult to make by hand. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is the most common 3D Printing process which uses a continuous filament of a Thermoplastic Material.

The general concept and procedure to be used in 3D Printing was first described by Murray Leinster, an Americal Writer in 1945 in his short story “Things Pass By”. Murray Leinster was the pen name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins. It was also described by Raymond F. Jones in his story, “Tools of the Trade,” published in 1950. In 1971, Johannes F Gottwald patented the Liquid Metal Recorder, (U.S. Patent 3596285A). It was a continuous inkjet metal material device to form a removable metal fabrication on a reusable surface for immediate use or salvaged for printing again by remelting. This appears to be the first patent describing 3D printing with rapid prototyping and controlled on-demand manufacturing of patterns.

There are different types of 3D Printing Technology. Read more about these here. The prototyping becomes faster, easier and inexpensive using 3D Printing Technology.

Applications of 3D Printing

3D Printing is widely used in many areas, some of them being

  • Aerospace/Aviation
  • Automotive
  • Medical/Healthcare
  • Jewellery
  • Art/Sculpture
  • Fashion
  • Architecture
  • Food
  • Construction
  • Robotics
  • Education
  • Chemical Industry

4D Printing

4D Printing or 4-dimensional printing is much similar to the 3D Printing. But the resultant 3D Shape can be morphed into different forms responding to environmental stimulus. The 4th Dimension is the time-dependent shape change after the 3D Printing process. Therefore, 4D Printing is a type of Programmable Matter in which the printed product reacts with parameters within the environment, changing its form. It is also known as 4D Bioprinting, Active Origami or Shape-Morphing System. Most of the 4D Printing systems utilize a network of Fibers that vary in size and material properties.

Read more about 3D Printing Technology here

Read more about 4D Printing Technology here and here.

Published for public awareness only and collected from various sources

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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