We are living in an era that is driven by technology. Every day, we find the emergence of new and different technology around us. The evaluation of printing or particularly 3D printing dates back to the 1980s. It was developed by Charles Hull when he started working on fabricating plastic devices from photopolymers at ultraviolet products in California. The lengthy process of fabrication along with the high probability of imperfection provided a huge motivation to Hull to perfect the prototype development.
In the year, Hull had established 3D systems and had developed STL file format which helped in an electronic handshake from computer-aided design known as CAD software, and it would also transmit the files for the printing of 3D objects. And since then there is continuous development in this field. At the present time, there is more advanced technology than 3D, but what is the actual difference? and printing technology is going to rule in the upcoming year. In this article, we are going to cast a look at the evaluation process of 3D and 4D printing and will be breaking down the major difference between the two.
Before projecting our attention on the latest technology let us have a detailed look at what these technologies actually are.
3D Printing Technology
3D printing has originated from layer-by-layer fabrication technology of three-dimension structures directly from computer-aided design drawing. 3D technology has emerged as a versatile technology. 3D printing is utilized for rapid prototyping of 3D models that are actually generated by computer-aided design programs including AutoDesk, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, or Creo Parametric.
3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. 3D printing gained widespread popularity because of the potential high-impact implementation in different applications that range from even personal tools two aeroscope equipment. The technology of 3D printing has recently emerged as windows a promising topic in every field, but its history goes back to the 1980s when the first server-to-do printer came into existence by Charles W.Hull, He was the Co-founder of 3D systems. This printing gives rise to new opportunities and too many new possibilities for the organizations that are looking for bringing an improvement in manufacturing efficiency.
Some of the materials that can be printed with 3D printing technology include conventional thermoplastics, graphene-based materials, metal, and ceramics. This printing technology bears a huge tendency in bringing revolution and innovation to the production line. The use of 3D printing can significantly increase their production speed while side by side reducing the costs. along with that, the consumers’ demand will have a major impact on the production.
There is another advantage of using 3D printing technology that is the reduction in the use of global transportation, and the reason can be that when the manufacturing sites are located near the end destination that saves both energy and time distribution can be done with tracking technology that saves both energy and time (Salonika & Marko, 2022).
3D printing technology is used all across the globe for mass customization, in the field of agriculture for the production of any type of open-source designs, in the automotive industry, in the aerospace industry, and healthcare industry. In the advanced manufacturing industry, 3D printing has emerged as one of the most powerful techniques in recent years.
This technology is not only being used in the manufacturing industry but in different industries as mentioned above in many countries. We will be looking at some of the types of 3D printing technologies one of the applications of 3D printing technology and the materials that are used for 3D printing technology with regard to different industries.
Types of 3D Printing
The types of 3D printing have been made based on their functioning. Therefore, the 3D printing technology has been divided into seven groups. With regard to types, there is not any debate about which technology is better at functioning because all of the technologies are designed for a specific purpose. Nowadays, this printing is not only limited to prototyping rather it is being used for making different products.
- Direct Energy Deposition
Direct energy positioning is rather a complex printing process that is mostly used for the repair or the addition of material two existing components. This technology relatively has a high degree of control of grain structure and is able to produce good quality objects. Direct energy positioning employs the use of user-focused thermal energy like an electric arc, laser, or electron beam to fuse for buyer or powder feedstock.
For the creation of a layered, this process is traversed horizontally and all the layers are stacked up vertically for the creation of a part. This process can be used with ceramics and polymers. However, it is commonly used with metals metal-based hybrids either in the form of fire or powder.
- Binder Jetting
Binder jetting is a prototyping or more precisely rapid prototyping and printing process in which our liquid binding agent is deposited to join powder particles. This technology makes use of a jet chemical binder upon the powder to make a thin layer. This technology of binder jetting is used to make large volume products from sand including casting patterns.
- The Material Extrusion
The material extrusion also known as fuse deposition modeling makes use of a spool of filament which is directly being fed to an extrusion head with the help of a heated nozzle The extrusion help sing heating, softening, and melting of the material at the desired location. At the desired location the material is cooled down, and a layer is being created after that the layer is moved further for the next layer. This method makes use of polymer for the main material.
- The Material Setting
In the material setting drop by drop, the material is selectively deposited. This technology works in the same manner as inkjet printing but the difference Nice that this process deposit’s layer of liquid from one or more print heads. this printing technology is one of the most expensive and the disadvantage is that the parts are brittle and can be decorated with the passage of time. Nevertheless, this technology has enabled the creation of full-colour parts within different materials.
- Powder Bed Fusion
The powder bed fusion makes use of electron beam melting, selective heat sintering, and selective laser sintering for the printing process. For the fusion of material powder, another electron beam or laser is used. the material used in this process include metals, polymers, ceramics, and hybrids.
- Sheet Lamination
Sheet lamination is another printing process. İn this 3D printing process sheets of materials are bound together to create a part of an object. this printing technology is using ultrasound additive manufacturing.
- Vat photopolymerization
This is a printing technique that is mostly used. Some example of 3D printing technology using this process is stereolithography and digital light processing. In both of these processes, photo polymers are the main ingredient however light source is the point of difference (Shahrabudhin & T.C.Lee, 2019).
4D Printing Technology
The history of 4D printing technology lies in the advancement of 3D printing technology which has been already discussed. 4D printing got the fame in the year 2012 at a TED conference at MIT. It was proved that with time, a simple 3D structure can be transformed into a more complex structure. This discovery opened a new dimension in 3D printing and it was given the name of 4D printing technology.
One year after that speech, a research paper on 4D printing was published in in the year 2013. The point of interest in this research paper was the concept of printed active composites that were used to transform a printed sheet into a rather complex structure by taking the help of the shape memory effect. The most interesting characteristic of this printing is that it is not static rather we can reshape which time with the help of programmed commands from the computer. There are many definitions for printing but the definition which explicitly defines 4D printing is, “4D printing is the evolution in the shape, property, and functionality of a 3D printed structure with time when it is exposed to specific heat, light, water, pH, etc”.
In 4D printing, many metamaterial structures are being created with changes in the environment. Researchers are concerned with shape changing ability of 4D printing such as elongation, bending, and twisting of 4D printed material. 4D printing is used for making toys, robots, lifters, microtubes, and lockers.
Quality of Material and Application of 4D printing in different fields
In 3D printing, the materials that are used are not flexible enough but in recent developments, the different materials are used that have helped a lot in 4D printing. These materials can respond in a better way to external stimuli and possess specific behaviors including self-assembly, shape memory, self capability, and self-healing.
İn for the printing, the materials that are being used are not only capable of shape-changing, but they also change color when exposed to ultraviolet and visible light. The material that is responsive to moisture or water is called hydrogel because it possesses an extraordinary quality. This is actually a class of 3D networks of polymer chains that are formed by cross-linking. Hydrogel has the high capability of printing different structures.
The material that is responsive to temperatures similar is called the smart material. The change in the shape of the material is the result of two factors or mechanisms called the shape change effect and shape memory effect.
4D printing is the game changer or can be called the technology of the future because of its application. The 4D printed material can have a significant impact on day-to-day life because these products can adapt themselves according to environmental conditions. In addition, four different materials consume less volume so the shipping arrangement does not become a major task to be tackled.
The printing is used in biomedical applications known as bioprinting is the application of the material transfer process for the fabrication of biological materials like a cell, tissue, and organs for different biological functions.
With 4D printing, there is a high possibility of constructing a complex structure which is why bioprinting is being considered a next-generation tissue engineering technique. The printing is also used in the field of soft robotics as in the traditional robotics hard materials were used including metals, hard plastic, and ceramics.
These robots were made for specific functions but the material that was used couldn’t bear the burden of environmental changes. However, with 4D printing material which can adapt itself to environmental conditions, the use of 4D printing has increased in this field (Ahmad, Arya, Gupta, & Khosla, 2021).
Aviation industry also used to face some restrictions with regard to 3D printing, but with the ability of shape-changing as per conditions, it has become easy for the aviation industry to change the shape of drone/wing during flight or while landing.
4D: The technology of future
We, humans, want change in all the fields of life and consistently try to bring about certain changes that can help us in all regards. 4D printing technology is an effort of one such type because 3D printing had certain limitations. Though, it is an advanced form of 3D technology because the existence of 4D is dependent on 3D printing.
However, as humans are progressing, they want perfection and want to change things as per the environmental conditions. 4D printing has made this thing possible because the material that is being used in this printing can adapt itself to the changes and thus can change its position in any structure as desired by humans. The change of shape of wings during flight is one such example.
4D printing is energy efficient too. There is a need for changes and improvement in 4D printing but with time, it can be done. With that 4D printing is the technology of the future and is more likely to stay for a long time because of its dynamic properties that are challenging to 3D printing.
- Ahmad, A., Arya, S., Gupta, V., & Khosla, A. (2021). 4D printing: Fundamentals, materials, applications and challenges.
- Salonika, A., & Marko, H. (2022). New Industrial Sustainable Growth: 3D and 4D Printing.
- Shahrabudhin, N., & T.C.Lee. (2019). An Overview on 3D Printing Technology: Technology, Material, and Application.