Mono-Material 4D Printing of Digital Shape-Memory Components

Polymers (Basel). 2021 Oct 30;13(21):3767. doi: 10.3390/polym13213767.


Dynamic shading systems in buildings help reduce solar gain. Actuated systems, which depend on renewable energy with reduced mechanical parts, further reduce building energy consumption compared to traditional interactive systems. This paper investigates stimuli-responsive polymer application in architectural products for sustainable energy consumption, complying with sustainable development goals (SDGs). The proposed research method posits that, by varying the infill percentage in a pre-determined manner inside a 3D-printed mono-material component, directionally controlled shape change can be detected due to thermal stimuli application. Thus, motion behavior can be engineered into a material. In this study, PLA+, PETG, TPU and PA 6 printed components are investigated under a thermal cycle test to identify a thermally responsive shape-memory polymer candidate that actuates within the built environment temperature range. A differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) test is carried out on TPU 95A and PA 6 to interpret the material shape response in terms of transitional temperatures. All materials tested show an anisotropic shape-change reaction in a pre-programmed manner, complying with the behavior engineered into the matter. Four-dimensional (4D)-printed PA6 shows shape-shifting behavior and total recovery to initial position within the built environment temperature range.

Keywords: 4D printing; digital fabrication; material programming; shape-memory polymers.