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Fellows in the field: Skylar Tibbits

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Skylar Tibbits and his team at MIT's Self Assembly Lab are working on materials to create 4-D printing. What exactly is 4-D printing? The Self Assembly Lab works to create physical objects that can self-construct from stored memory inside their materials, adding what is commonly referred to as the 4th dimension — time — to 3-D printing. Science fiction? Not quite...

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Watch a 3D printer make a pizza.Self-Assembly is a process by which disordered parts build an ordered structure through local interaction. We have demonstrated that this phenomenon is scale-independent and can be utilized for self-constructing and manufacturing systems at nearly every scale. We have also identified the key ingredients for self-assembly as a simple set of responsive building blocks, energy and interactions that can be designed within nearly every material and machining process available. Self-assembly promises to enable breakthroughs across every applications of biology, material science, software, robotics, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, construction, the arts, and even space exploration. The Self-Assembly Lab is working with academic, commercial, nonprofit, and government partners, collaborators, and sponsors to make our self-assembling future a reality.From something as familiar as our bodies to things vast as the formation of galaxies, we can observe the process of self-assembly, or when unordered parts come together in an organized structure. Skylar Tibbits explains how we see self-assembly at work in biology and chemistry -- and even in our future technologies.3D printing has grown in sophistication since the late 1970s; TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits is shaping the next development, which he calls 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contractHere's an interesting article about the self-assembly of mesoscopic and macroscopic components.Here's another Fellows in the Field video about Shivani Siroya. She talks about how she created InSight, an SMS accounting tool that helps entrepreneurs in developing countries.
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