This is like science fiction and an extension to 3D printing – it is called 4D printing and it’s another revolution.
The idea is not only can we print products but they have the ability to self-assemble. That is right, change the environment and objects can alter shape and combine with each other (assemble themselves). The end product can have very different performance characteristics from the original components.
It is very early days in 4D printing and the idea is right out of Star Trek. Watch the video – it is cool but slightly scary. You can imagine some harmless looking group of objects morphing and moving together into something very different and nasty. It seems we learn from mother nature every day – this is exactly what viruses and bacteria do.
Editor comment: 4D printing clearly has the potential for good and for bad. It is fast becoming fact and not science fiction. In some respects I find it frightening given history which is littered with examples where a disruptive technology is used for bad purposes