At first, the world got excited about 3D printing, even the military. However, with technology, there will never be complete satisfaction; people want more every single time. This has led experts coming up with the prospects of 4D printing. It has been foreseen to be the mother of all inventions if and when it comes to being.
What is 4D printing?
Fourth dimension printing is the creation of adaptive materials. What does this mean? This means that unlike 3D printing that created fixed shapes, 4D printing will create shapes that can change in to new shapes or change functionality. Consider the case of science fiction movies where robots turn in to cars. It uses the basic layering process of 3D printing but the shape changing is brought by the inclusion of shape memory in the creation of items. That is the technology being aimed at by the military. The US military has shown great interest in this technology due to its possible magnificence when it is actualized. They have funded researchers in three universities with $850,000 to come up with an eligible application. The amount might seem a lot but not to the army that usually spends millions in their operations.
When this technology comes to life, the military will benefit in numerous ways. 4D creations will be able to change their shape and functionality when demanded to do so. It will require external stimuli to do this. With the military, they would be able to acquire all-in-one weapons, protection and camouflaging capabilities. They could be able to create tanks whose metal component adapts to the particular environment it is in to offer impeccable camouflage. They could be able to create guns that can convert to high powered guns upon demand. For protection, they could create uniforms that change their structure in the face of destructive components such as poisonous gases. The ability of creations to change will be in the tiny micro levels of the structure instead of the whole item; this will bring the assurance of top notch functionality.
The key factor in creation would be to use components that can change their properties, shape or functionality in the face of certain stimuli. The stimulating factors will have to at least be environmental factors such as water for easier effectiveness. Well, currently all this is just a theory. The real work is being done by the researchers who will hopefully find answers soon. If the military has invested in such a project, then it definitely means that the imaginations can soon become a reality.