Move over 3D printing - here comes 4D printing (w/video)

(Nanowerk News) Many are only just getting their heads around the idea of 3D printing but scientists at MIT are already working on an upgrade: 4D printing.
At the TED conference in Los Angeles, architect and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits showed how the process allows objects to self-assemble.
In a collaboration between Stratasys’ Education, R&D departments and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, a new process is being developed, coined 4D Printing, which demonstrates a radical shift in rapid-prototyping.
4D Printing entails multi-material prints with the added capability of embedded transformation from one shape to another, directly off the print-bed.
This revolutionary technique offers a streamlined path from idea to reality with full functionality built directly into the materials.
Imagine robotics-like behavior without the reliance on complex electro-mechanical devices!
In order to take advantage of this new technology from idea conception to reality, the team have collaborated with Autodesk Research on their developments for a new software, called Cyborg, a design platform spanning applications from the nano-scale to the human-scale. This software allows for simulated self-assembly and programmable materials as well as optimization for design constraints and joint folding.
The aim is to tightly couple this new cross-disciplinary and cross-scalar design tool with the real-world material transformation of 4D printing. The tightly coupled software and hardware tools will eliminate the traditional paradigms of 1) simulating then building or 2) building then adjusting the simulation. This coupled workflow will be unprecedented in the simulation adjusting physical performance and materials promoting new simulated possibilities.
Source: MIT