Design Thinking for 4D-Materials

  Figure of a 4D-Textile Copyright: © ITA RWTH Aachen

Topic Description & Motivation:

4D materials are materials that shape change, e.g., in a time-dependent manner or by external stimulus, thus enabling the development of completely new products and applications. In the particular case of so-called 4D textiles, a pre-stressed textile substrate is printed three-dimensionally using fused deposition modeling (FDM). By varying the textile as well as printing parameters and by designing the application patterns, the subsequent, spatial deformation of the product can be specifically adjusted.


4D textiles are material structures that are particularly novel. The development of sustainable applications is therefore complex. A large focus is on working with physical prototypes (Agile Protoyping). The process is divided into three phases: Understand (problem identification), Create (problem solving) and Develop (specification phase). After an introduction to the topic of 4D materials and specifically 4D textiles, these three phases are run through in groups using a case study. The students can choose their own ideas in teams which they want to continue with. The workshop will be conducted as a block during the two weeks. Each day, theoretical and methodological content will first be presented to the students. Afterwards, the students work independently on site. In doing so, they will be supported by the trainers, who will always be present. The students will have the chance to present their results in a symposium to an international research community from the Netherlands, UK and Germany.

Learning objectives:

Develop an understanding of 4D materials and associated development processes, methods and manufacturing technologies.

Enable product development in the context of 4D textiles using Design Thinking


Participant profile

The target group are students in both Bachelor and Master, of all disciplines with an interest in innovative production technologies and novel products. Students who want to work in an interdisciplinary way and apply new innovation methods for complex technologies are addressed.

Maximum number of participants: 20

Time period

9th - 20th August 2021, part-time with 4 hours every day

Further information

Organizer: Institut für Textiltechnik

Coordinator: Hannah Kelbel, M.Sc.

Language: German or english, depending on the participants

Play Video
Preview of a 4D-textile