While we are still trying to understand the possibilities and limits of three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing, a new term has emerged for our vocabulary. 4D printing is nothing more than a digital manufacturing technology -3D printing- which includes a new dimension: the temporal. This means that the printed material, once ready, will be able to modify, transform or move autonomously due to its intrinsic properties that respond to environmental stimuli.
The concept was popularized by researcher Skylar Tibbits, who coordinates the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Self-Assembly Lab, in collaboration with Stratasys and Autodesk. The technology is still quite new, but it is expected to be used in many fields, from construction, infrastructure, automobile and aeronautics and even for healthcare, combined with bioprinting.