4D printing of bionic smart materials


4D printing; smart materials; biomimetic; multiple response

General Introduction

Based on the excellent structure and composite material characteristics of biology, research on the theory and technology of biomimetic 4D intelligent manufacturing is carried out. By integrating biomimetic and 4D printing technology, smart materials driven by optical, electrical, thermal and magnetic fields can be realized.

Bionic Prototype

After being touched, Mimosa leaves can be closed and the petiole will droop. When the Venus Flytrap senses the presence of insects, it traps them fastly. Mimosa and Venus flytrap have cognitive stimulation and deformation response of irritability, which is because the leaves of mimosa will immediately generate a tiny current (50-100mV) when they sense external stimuli. Meanwhile, the current is quickly transmitted along the petiole to the small spherical organs on the base of the blade, causing the activity of the spherical organs, which further drives the movement of the leaves, making the leaves close.

Bionic Principle

By integrating bionics and 4D printing technology, the leap-forward manufacturing from biological model to bionic products can be realized, showing high bionic efficiency. The developed variety of 4D printing technology includes: from homogeneous material to bionic 3D manufacturing technology of heterogeneous material; from disorder to orderly structure regulation of random structure bionic 4D manufacturing technology; from the overall to discrete, general to custom, static to dynamic, dead to have bionic 4D manufacturing technology such as life; from local to global optimization design of bionic 4D manufacturing technology; from the structure to the function of a bionic 4D manufacturing etc. At the same time, the biomimetic intelligent 4D printing material has been developed to realize multiple response modes such as water, temperature, magnetic field, light and electricity.

Technological Application

Bionic mobile robot, bionic gripper, artificial muscle, etc.


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Principal Investigators

Skylar Tibbits

Jinsong Leng

Zhendong Dai

Yunhong Liang

Research institutes

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harbin Institute of Technology

Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Jilin University


Yunhong Liang, Shu-Yi Li, Hang Sun.