A 3D printer in progress

How Does 4D Printing Differ From 3D Printing?

As industries are undergoing the fourth industrial revolution, the innovation is at its verge. 3D printing technology is already proving its force, and now its advanced version is here to bring a sheer transformation. Engineers are proactively working towards 4D printing change the complete manufacturing ecosystem. 

By leveraging advanced 3D printing technology and smart custom filaments, engineers can develop objects that can function autonomously. These unique objects can evolve without any computing algorithm or external power. This new form of 3D printing, in which the fourth dimension develops at a specific external condition, is the future. 

4D Printing vs 3D Printing: Know the Core Difference

4D printing is not a unique technology to 3D printing as it’s more of an advanced version of it. In this technology, complex 3D-printed objects can mimic movements like living creatures. In 4D printing, the item senses the external stimuli and responds to it by adopting it according to the surroundings. 

These unique objects can revolutionise the fundamental properties like shape and size without any human-created driving force. Several complex industrial applications need such implications, and 4D printing is ready to increase efficiency. 

In 3D printing, we can print an object of our preferred shape or size using the filaments, but the items don’t have properties to change their dimensions. However, in 4D printing, that 3D-printed object can disrupt its original shape under a specific condition. 

This future-focused 4d printing technology is not less than science fiction, and it’s happening in reality. Several businesses can foresee highly efficient operations with greater cost efficiency by leveraging this innovation. 

What is the 4th Dimension?

By integrating advanced 3D printing technology with the special bio filaments, the object can react to an external factor and bring out its unique characteristics. Researchers call the change in the object’s dimension as the 4th dimension. The object’s rapid reaction to external stimuli is the technical add-on to the 3d-printed object. 

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4D Printing Technology Spells Better Future

The current industrial sector is undergoing a massive transformation leveraging advanced digital technologies. Regardless of domain, companies are operating at higher efficiency and more cost-effective through digital transformation. 

With the arrival of 4D printing technology, there are unprecedented growth opportunities for companies of any size. This advancement will bring more economical solutions that are hard to derive from the existing infrastructure. 

Autonomous Transformation 

This robust technology can deliver analog autonomous objects without needing power supply or any algorithm execution. These objects can act like living organisms, and there is no need for constant monitoring or human triggers. These autonomous behaviours of printed items is a boon for several industries. 

Be it constructing skyscrapers, textile operations, 3D-printed prosthetics, or aerospace; the scope is endless. These futuristic 4d products are the beginning towards self-construction and self-heaving fundamentals. With this advancement, engineers can draft more complex 3D printing designs that are easy to deploy and perform specific actions. 

4D Printing Applications: The Future is Here

The industrial sector is currently leveraging the 3D printing applications, and the RoI is relatively high compared to other innovative technologies. But, this 4D printing advancement is one step ahead of it as it can eliminate several post-production tasks. The futuristic addition to the 3D printing service will be a boom for several complex operations that requires substantial efforts and capital for execution. 

The Ability to Self-Assemble

Objects made using the 4D-printing technology can assemble by themselves when they meet a specific trigger. Without the need for any electromechanical mechanism, this expansion is possible to execute as per the requirements. This self-assembly feature could be a boon to the construction industry as it will enable engineers to work at high-risk areas. 

Aerospace industry can use this technology to send custom objects made using 4D printing, and it will react in outer space. This technology will bring a drastic transformation as it will allow the engineers to do more frequent operations at outer space. 

Be it on a nano-scale or macro-scale, the expansion ability like an organism can help engineers target complex operations efficiently. For example,— space agencies can send compact objects to space, and the items will reform their original length as soon as they react to external conditions.  


Self-adaptability properties in non-living objects will be a massive achievement through this technology. The items can be designed so that they can adapt as per the environment along with self-assembling. For example, if things can adapt to the weather conditions to save themselves, the innovations could be unstoppable. 

Unlike traditional processes in which the flexibility is minimum, and manual assembly is needed, 4d printing will waive manual intervention. 

Ability to Self-Repair

Another futuristic application of this application is self-repairing objects that can save cost and time. These self-repair elements are ideal for critical zones like war, military training, or surgical operations. As the items can heal by themselves, higher efficiency is more comfortable to achieve in several real-life scenarios.

One prominent use case will be internal-body prosthetics which can repair by themselves even if they experience a crack by an external factor. It will be a life-changing application for both patients and medical practitioners. 

When 4d printing will come out from laboratories, and people will use it in real-life use cases, we can gauge their real potential. It is a promising and futuristic technology, and the whole industrial domain can take a paradigm shift leveraging it for performing complex tasks.


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