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  • This is me building a prototype

  • for six hours straight.

  • This is slave labor to my own project.

  • This is what the DIY and maker movements really look like.

  • And this is an analogy for today's construction and manufacturing world

  • with brute-force assembly techniques.

  • And this is exactly why I started studying

  • how to program physical materials to build themselves.

  • But there is another world.

  • Today at the micro- and nanoscales,

  • there's an unprecedented revolution happening.

  • And this is the ability to program physical and biological materials

  • to change shape, change properties

  • and even compute outside of silicon-based matter.

  • There's even a software called cadnano

  • that allows us to design three-dimensional shapes

  • like nano robots or drug delivery systems

  • and use DNA to self-assemble those functional structures.

  • But if we look at the human scale,

  • there's massive problems that aren't being addressed

  • by those nanoscale technologies.

  • If we look at construction and manufacturing,

  • there's major inefficiencies, energy consumption

  • and excessive labor techniques.

  • In infrastructure, let's just take one example.

  • Take piping.

  • In water pipes, we have fixed-capacity water pipes

  • that have fixed flow rates, except for expensive pumps and valves.

  • We bury them in the ground.

  • If anything changes -- if the environment changes,

  • the ground moves, or demand changes --

  • we have to start from scratch and take them out and replace them.

  • So I'd like to propose that we can combine those two worlds,

  • that we can combine the world of the nanoscale programmable adaptive materials

  • and the built environment.

  • And I don't mean automated machines.

  • I don't just mean smart machines that replace humans.

  • But I mean programmable materials that build themselves.

  • And that's called self-assembly,

  • which is a process by which disordered parts build an ordered structure

  • through only local interaction.

  • So what do we need if we want to do this at the human scale?

  • We need a few simple ingredients.

  • The first ingredient is materials and geometry,

  • and that needs to be tightly coupled with the energy source.

  • And you can use passive energy --

  • so heat, shaking, pneumatics, gravity, magnetics.

  • And then you need smartly designed interactions.

  • And those interactions allow for error correction,

  • and they allow the shapes to go from one state to another state.

  • So now I'm going to show you a number of projects that we've built,

  • from one-dimensional, two-dimensional, three-dimensional

  • and even four-dimensional systems.

  • So in one-dimensional systems --

  • this is a project called the self-folding proteins.

  • And the idea is that you take the three-dimensional structure of a protein --

  • in this case it's the crambin protein --

  • you take the backbone -- so no cross-linking, no environmental interactions --

  • and you break that down into a series of components.

  • And then we embed elastic.

  • And when I throw this up into the air and catch it,

  • it has the full three-dimensional structure of the protein, all of the intricacies.

  • And this gives us a tangible model

  • of the three-dimensional protein and how it folds

  • and all of the intricacies of the geometry.

  • So we can study this as a physical, intuitive model.

  • And we're also translating that into two-dimensional systems --

  • so flat sheets that can self-fold into three-dimensional structures.

  • In three dimensions, we did a project last year at TEDGlobal

  • with Autodesk and Arthur Olson

  • where we looked at autonomous parts --

  • so individual parts not pre-connected that can come together on their own.

  • And we built 500 of these glass beakers.

  • They had different molecular structures inside

  • and different colors that could be mixed and matched.

  • And we gave them away to all the TEDsters.

  • And so these became intuitive models

  • to understand how molecular self-assembly works at the human scale.

  • This is the polio virus.

  • You shake it hard and it breaks apart.

  • And then you shake it randomly

  • and it starts to error correct and built the structure on its own.

  • And this is demonstrating that through random energy,

  • we can build non-random shapes.

  • We even demonstrated that we can do this at a much larger scale.

  • Last year at TED Long Beach,

  • we built an installation that builds installations.

  • The idea was, could we self-assemble furniture-scale objects?

  • So we built a large rotating chamber,

  • and people would come up and spin the chamber faster or slower,

  • adding energy to the system

  • and getting an intuitive understanding of how self-assembly works

  • and how we could use this

  • as a macroscale construction or manufacturing technique for products.

  • So remember, I said 4D.

  • So today for the first time, we're unveiling a new project,

  • which is a collaboration with Stratasys,

  • and it's called 4D printing.

  • The idea behind 4D printing

  • is that you take multi-material 3D printing --

  • so you can deposit multiple materials --

  • and you add a new capability,

  • which is transformation,

  • that right off the bed,

  • the parts can transform from one shape to another shape directly on their own.

  • And this is like robotics without wires or motors.

  • So you completely print this part,

  • and it can transform into something else.

  • We also worked with Autodesk on a software they're developing called Project Cyborg.

  • And this allows us to simulate this self-assembly behavior

  • and try to optimize which parts are folding when.

  • But most importantly, we can use this same software

  • for the design of nanoscale self-assembly systems

  • and human scale self-assembly systems.

  • These are parts being printed with multi-material properties.

  • Here's the first demonstration.

  • A single strand dipped in water

  • that completely self-folds on its own

  • into the letters M I T.

  • I'm biased.

  • This is another part, single strand, dipped in a bigger tank

  • that self-folds into a cube, a three-dimensional structure, on its own.

  • So no human interaction.

  • And we think this is the first time

  • that a program and transformation

  • has been embedded directly into the materials themselves.

  • And it also might just be the manufacturing technique

  • that allows us to produce more adaptive infrastructure in the future.

  • So I know you're probably thinking,

  • okay, that's cool, but how do we use any of this stuff for the built environment?

  • So I've started a lab at MIT,

  • and it's called the Self-Assembly Lab.

  • And we're dedicated to trying to develop programmable materials

  • for the built environment.

  • And we think there's a few key sectors

  • that have fairly near-term applications.

  • One of those is in extreme environments.

  • These are scenarios where it's difficult to build,

  • our current construction techniques don't work,

  • it's too large, it's too dangerous, it's expensive, too many parts.

  • And space is a great example of that.

  • We're trying to design new scenarios for space

  • that have fully reconfigurable and self-assembly structures

  • that can go from highly functional systems from one to another.

  • Let's go back to infrastructure.

  • In infrastructure, we're working with a company out of Boston called Geosyntec.

  • And we're developing a new paradigm for piping.

  • Imagine if water pipes could expand or contract

  • to change capacity or change flow rate,

  • or maybe even undulate like peristaltics to move the water themselves.

  • So this isn't expensive pumps or valves.

  • This is a completely programmable and adaptive pipe on its own.

  • So I want to remind you today

  • of the harsh realities of assembly in our world.

  • These are complex things built with complex parts

  • that come together in complex ways.

  • So I would like to invite you from whatever industry you're from

  • to join us in reinventing and reimagining the world,

  • how things come together from the nanoscale to the human scale,

  • so that we can go from a world like this

  • to a world that's more like this.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

This is me building a prototype

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【TED】Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of "4D printing" (The emergence of "4D printing" | Skylar Tibbits)

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/05/25
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