Summer School: "Design Thinking for 4D-Materials"

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

Topic description & motivation:

We want to encourage collaboration between designer and engineers in the field of shape changing material. 4D materials are materials that form a spatial deformation, e.g. in a time-dependent manner or through external excitation, thus enabling the development of completely new products and applications. In the special case of so-called 4D textiles, a pre-stressed textile substrate is printed three-dimensionally by means of Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM). By varying the textile as well as the printing parameters and by designing the application patterns, the subsequent, spatial deformation of the product can be specifically adjusted.

Preliminary program:

The Summer School will take place in two workshops in Aachen (29.06.22 - 01.07.2022) and Berlin (28.09.22 - 30.09.22). It is a cooperation with the renowned Kunsthochschule Weissensee in Berlin. On two days each, different focuses will be placed on the exploration of 4D textiles. Students from both universities will work together.

4D textiles are material structures that are particularly novel. The development of sustainable applications is therefore complex. A major focus is on working with physical prototypes (agile prototyping). The process is divided into three phases: Understand (problem identification), Create (problem solving) and Develop (specification phase) and is oriented towards Design Thinking. After an introduction to the topic of 4D materials and especially 4D textiles, these three phases are worked through in groups using a case study. Students have the opportunity to identify their own ideas for problems and implement solutions.

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

Desired participant profile and number of participants:

A number of participants of 16 students (8 RWTH Aachen, 8 Kunsthochschule Weissensee Berlin) is envisaged. The target group is students, Master and late Bachelor, of all disciplines with an interest in innovative production technologies and novel products. Students who work in an interdisciplinary way and want to apply new innovation methods for complex technologies are very welcome.

Course language:

English and German (depending on participants)


29.06.22 – 01.07.2022 (Aachen) und 28.09.22 – 30.09.22 (Berlin), Travel expenses will be covered

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4D Textile - Multimaterial 4D Printing Cube ITA