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    Owing to their high deformation ability, 4D printed structures have various applications in origami structures, soft robotics and deployable mechanisms. As a material with programmable molecular chain orientation, liquid crystal elastomer is expected to produce the freestanding, bearable and deformable three-dimensional structure. However, majority of the existing 4D printing methods for liquid crystal elastomers can only fabricate planar structures, which limits their deformation designability and bearing capacity. Here we propose a direct ink writing based 4D printing method for freestanding continuous fiber reinforced composites. Continuous fibers can support freestanding structures during the printing process and improve the mechanical property and deformation ability of 4D printed structures. In this paper, the integration of 4D printed structures with fully impregnated composite interfaces, programmable deformation ability and high bearing capacity are realized by adjusting the off-center distribution of the fibers, and the printed liquid crystal composite can carry a load of up to 2805 times its own weight and achieve a bending deformation curvature of 0.33 mm-1 at 150 °C. This research is expected to open new avenues for creating soft robotics, mechanical metamaterials and artificial muscles. © 2023. The Author(s).


    Qingrui Wang, Xiaoyong Tian, Daokang Zhang, Yanli Zhou, Wanquan Yan, Dichen Li. Programmable spatial deformation by controllable off-center freestanding 4D printing of continuous fiber reinforced liquid crystal elastomer composites. Nature communications. 2023 Jun 30;14(1):3869

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    PMID: 37391425

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