mit, 4d printing, self assemblySkylar Tibbits is a trained architect, designer and computer scientist whose research currently focuses on developing self-assembly technologies for large-scale structures in the physical environment.

Skylar, who is also a TED2012 Senior Fellow, recently presented a new concept at TED2013: 4D printing – where materials can be reprogrammed to self-assemble into new structures. Apparently, this is just the tip of the iceberg in manufacturing with minimum energy consumption.

According to Tibbits “Natural systems obviously have this built in — the ability to have a desire. Plants, for example, generally have the desire to grow towards light and they generate energy from the translation of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide to oxygen, and so on. This is extremely difficult to build into synthetic systems — the ability to “want” or need something and know how to change itself in order to acquire it, or the ability to generate its own energy source. If we combine the processes that natural systems offer intrinsically (genetic instructions, energy production, error correction) with those artificial or synthetic (programmability for design and scaffold, structure, mechanisms) we can potentially have extremely large-scale quasi-biological and quasi-synthetic architectural organisms.”

Watch Two Videos of 4D Printing in Action Below:

4D Printing: Cube Self-Folding Strand from Skylar Tibbits on Vimeo.

4D Printing: MIT Self-Folding Strand from Skylar Tibbits on Vimeo.

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