SIM-AM 2023

Design of Graphical Symbols for Shape Transformations of 4D Printed Parts

  • Pei, Eujin (Brunel University London)
  • Leung, Christopher (University College London)

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The term “4D Printing” (4DP) is defined as the ability for additively manufactured objects to change its shape or structure when exposed to external stimuli over time. This is an emerging technology that offers unique advantages over conventional Additive Manufacturing (AM), as it considers “Time” as the fourth dimension. 4DP parts can be programmed for actuation without external power sources or electromechanical systems, reducing the probability of failure and reducing the number of components. 4DP parts are able to “self-assemble” and autonomously transform without human involvement, such as a self-folding transformation for assembly. Other shape transformations include folding, bending, rolling, twisting, helixing, buckling, curving, topographical change, iso volumetric change and non-iso volumetric change. This work attempts to address the challenges faced by the design engineer when producing technical documentation to specify the shape transformation of 4D Printed parts with a graphical representation selected at the appropriate level of abstraction, such that specific functional requirements can be represented by the allowable variation in dimensional size and tolerance in geometric form of the functionally-critical features on a part or parts in an assembly. This presentation describes the development of a proposed standard to describe the desired shape transformations that can be achieved using 4D Printing process(es). It presents the use of graphical symbols and specifications through a Transformation Control Frame (TCF) as the specification to define the rules of transforming between shapes; and a Bill of Transformation (BoT) to enumerate all the Transformation Control Frames (TCF) that describe the sequence of shape transformations. The presentation takes a step further by demonstrating an example of a use case in the form of a generic actuator.