Research Towards Shape-Changing Composites with Thermal Responsiveness: 4D Print Experiments in Small Scale | The Plan Journal

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Michaela Gebetsroither
Oliver Schürer

Latest SMP (Shape Memory Polymers) materials may allow to produce future building elements that change their shape in various ways. This study focuses on (1) developing shape-changing multi-materials from SMP and (2) control the change in shape by harnessing its thermal responsiveness. We focus on the manufacturing of SMP/PLA (Polylactic acid), SMP/TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and SMP/PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol) composites, with special attention to SMP/TPU and SMP/PETG composites and their material behaviors compared to single SMPs. The first step was to initially investigate shape-changing and self-transforming composites. We report on (a) a thermo-active SMP capable of recovering from a shape-change after exposure to a temperature of 55°C and (b) testing the concept of 4D printing with FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) technique. Their printability and cohesion were tested, and consequently, a geometric connection strategy was introduced to design SMP/PLA and SMP/PETG composites. Finally, we managed to activate shape-change in an SMP/PETG with embedded heating wires controlled by a microcontroller.