In this article we will discus 4D-printing from self-assembling chairs to cancer-fighting robots,
Someday, in the not too distant future, you may be able to buy an IKEA chair, take it home and see it assembled in front of you. In the same future world, a cancer diagnosis can inject nanorobots that selectively track and kill cancer cells. He only feels a slight fever.
Sensory chairs and gun robots may seem like science fiction, but these are two very real things that Carlos Olguin is working on as director of the Bio / Nano / Programmable Matter Group at software giant Autodesk. Project Founded as a quirky start-up in California in the 1980s, the company has grown from developing AutoCAD 8-bit PC design software to speculating about the future of programmable life forms.
“We see life as a design space now,” says Orgin when they met while on a busy tour of synthetic biology research clothes in London. “We’re exploring beyond the lazy world and seeing how we can apply what we’ve learned from the design industry to our organic life.”
Funding for this jump has taken the futuristic name of Project Cyborg. It’s an initiative the company calls “a cloud-based meta-platform of design tools for programming problems”. In essence, it is very complex software that is run by a number of supercomputers over the Internet, which makes the modeling, simulation, and design optimization processes seem simple and incredibly fast.
“The modeling process that used to take weeks and postdoc-level skills are now relatively easy to complete in seconds,” says Orgin. “We’re trying to reduce our technological capabilities.”
The Cyborg Project’s skills are currently being tested by a variety of institutions in a variety of disciplines, from MIT architectural researchers to Harvard life scientists. Skylar Tibbits, the architect who runs MIT’s self-assembly laboratory, has worked on models of self-assembly structures, from the nanoscale to buildings.
“We are investigating the possibility of programming physical and biological materials to change their shape, change properties and calculate outside of silicon-based materials,” said Tibbits at the TED conference in February. It showed a self-folding strand that was 3D printed with a “smart” material developed by Stratasys and that folds into a cube upon contact with water. He explained how this technology could be extended to infrastructure projects such as water supply networks.
“The water pipes have a fixed capacity. So if the environment changes, the soil changes, or the demand changes, you have to dig into everything and start over, ”he said. Tubes can be constructed to expand and contract using programmable materials that build and adjust themselves, and also pulsate to force water through the tube, mimicking the natural process of human intestinal peristalsis. “It’s like robotics, but it just doesn’t have any cables or motors,” he said. Tibbits sees a future in which this technology can be used to build self-organizing processes stimulated by a variety of energy sources, from furniture to bikes, cars and even buildings, from heating to shaking, from gravity to air pressure.
“DNA is a very useful structural material,” says Orgin. “Because it’s very predictable in the way it folds.” Douglas has developed a nanorobot made up of strands of DNA in the shape of a basket with a double helix “lock” that only opens when the robot comes into contact with certain cancer cells. When the shell is opened, it specifically releases antibodies that stop cell growth and mimic the behavior of our natural white blood cells. This is a revolutionary step and could one day do away with invasive chemotherapy.
This brave new world of intelligent pharmacology and personalized medicine is just one medium that Project Cyborg seeks to promote. Ongoing projects, such as the monitoring of bacterial cultures in mechanically ventilated buildings on self-organizing furniture, can lead to fundamental changes in the way designers think and act.
“When we learn to design, it’s a top-down approach that traditionally enforces our own vision,” says Origin. “This is another design paradigm. It’s about setting parameters and developing and developing your own materials. “
“Like an insect with an antenna, a robot can overcome small obstacles, but if the obstacles are too high, they will come back,” says Wei Feng, lead author, a materials scientist at Tianjin University in China. “The whole process is voluntary with no human intervention or control.”
The robot starts out as a flat rectangular sheet of 3D printed liquid crystal elastomer, a type of stretchable plastic material. When the ground warms up, the robot turns spontaneously and forms a spring-shaped capillary. Changes in shape due to external stimuli lengthen the printing process like 4D and make it 4D.
When the robot forms the kidney tubules, contact with the hot surface causes the material to stretch and rotate in one direction. The driving force behind this movement is so strong that the robot can climb an incline of 20 degrees or carry 40 times its own weight. The length of the robot affects the speed and long robots turn faster than short ones.
Researchers have recorded videos demonstrating the robots’ capabilities, such as walking between robots of different sizes and another robot carrying a car. The video also shows how a robot’s behavior changes depending on the environment when climbing stairs or turning when it encounters an insurmountable obstacle.
The robot’s behavior came as a surprise to Feng. “We process the liquid crystal elastomer in samples in various ways using 4D printing and stimulate them with light, heat, and electricity in order to observe the reaction,” he says. “In addition to the deformation, I have found many interesting driving phenomena.”
In the future, these squishy robots will be in tight spaces like pipes or 200? It can be used to perform work in extreme conditions such as Water surfaces. “We hope that soft robots are no longer limited to simple actuators that can only change their shape in a fixed position,” says Feng.
This work was supported by the National Key Program of the China National Natural Sciences Foundation, the National Key Research and Development Program of China, and the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China.