It took three decades for 3D printing to become a disruptive force in the supply chain and it’s still relatively immature, but 4D printing is starting to emerge as a further extension of additive manufacturing.
According to Grandview Research, the global 4D printing market is estimated to reach US$64.5 million by 2019 and grow at a CAGR exceeding 33.2 percent from 2020 to 2025. The research firm attributes the growth to rising demand in the military and defense, aerospace, automotive, and healthcare industries. North America is expected to emerge as a dominant region for 4D printing market by 2025 due to high investments in research and development.
4D printing isn’t so much the eventual replacement of 3D printing technology as it is a superset, according to Grandview Research analyst Priyanka Bansal. It’s a technique that adds up time as the fourth dimension to a 3D printed object. 4D printed objects are programmed to change physical dimensions upon application of external stimuli, and the processes for manufacturing the final product are similar to 3D printing. The only difference comes in with the ability to change the shape, whereas 3D printed objects are not self-healing.