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Journal Articles Journal of Integrated Design and Process Science Year : 2022

Research strategy in 4D printing: Disruptive vs. incremental?


The paper aims at presenting 4D printing as a research-intensive technology from a critical external perspective. It provides a comprehensive discussion on the possible future of this emerging domain and also highlights weaknesses and strengths of applying a disruptive or incremental research strategy. Most scientific research efforts in 4D printing contribute to developing the spectrum of possible changes by investigating stimulus/smart materials combinations with additive manufacturing technologies. Although the current results are spectacular, the performances are still far from the basic requirements expected in the industry. The paper highlights the current limitations and trends towards incremental research strategies and argues in favor of risk-taking and the disruptive nature of research to make leaps that benefit society. Even if transgressive promises are associated with this technology with high growth potential in academic research, where creativity is involved and related invention derived, targeted applications are far from being achieved leading to a risk of the slow death of the field and unsatisfactory innovation. Based on this assessment, it appears that close fields in a situation of possible disciplinary porosity can – with a little openness and some creativity – move away from the current highly self-centered work to try to rekindle 4D printing, provided that risk-taking in interdisciplinary research is better supported. If creativity and interdisciplinary project management for innovation are to be promoted, the organizational context must be conducive to risk-taking for this redeployment.
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Dates and versions

hal-03485234 , version 1 (17-12-2021)



Frédéric Demoly, Jean-Claude André. Research strategy in 4D printing: Disruptive vs. incremental?. Journal of Integrated Design and Process Science, 2022, 24 (2), pp.53-73. ⟨10.3233/JID200020⟩. ⟨hal-03485234⟩
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