The Intelligent Miner

Just when you thought you’d got your head around 3-D printing and its place within the mining industry, along comes the next wave of innovative.

Here’s what you need to know about 4-D printing.

What is 4-D printing?

If possible, 4-D printing actually holds greater potential for applications within the mining industry than 3-D. But, first things first, what is it?

Like 3-D printing, 4-D printing is a type of additive layered manufacturing. Technology bellwether, Gartner gave a good description in a recent blog post:

“Four-dimensional printing is a technique where the materials are encoded with a dynamic capability — either function, confirmation or properties — that can change via the application of chemicals, electronics, particulates, nanomaterials and advanced designs,” the company said.

In practice, this means that objects printed using ‘intelligent materials’ can change form or function after their creation in response to natural or man-made stimuli. For…

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