Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
3 files

Designed to Deform

posted on 2024-06-10, 02:22 authored by Namini Mianji, Maryam

While petroleum-based polymers have been widely accepted due to their functional properties, it is becoming evident that some bio-based materials can also be engineered to deliver novel functionalities such as 4D responsivity. Integrating bio-based responsive materials with 4D printing technology can offer considerable potential for large-scale applications such as furniture products. This integration provides a more novel form of transportation for such products as well as the opportunity to eliminate the requirement for the production of multiple parts and assembly of them. In addition, this integration provides the opportunity to make use of locally-available resources for a more sustainable economy. Despite these advantages, there is a lack of research that explores the application of these materials and technologies for large-scale products. In response, this research showcases the potential design opportunity of responsive bio-based polymers combined with 4D printing technology for large-scale applications.

This research involves a series of physical experiments conducted in collaboration with material scientists based on the Material Driven Design method. These experiments demonstrate the novel properties of engineered cellulose-based polyesters in the form of design concepts. Hardware was developed to provide the required tools for large-scale prototyping. In addition, this research employs the Research Through Design approach to guide an experimental and iterative process of developing furniture designs, as a case study for large-scale products.

This research creates four outcomes in different stages of the project. The first outcome is a taxonomy of cellulose-based polyesters with their properties. The second outcome is a large-scale paste extruder that can be installed on an industrial robot arm. The third is a series of 4D-printed, small-scale furniture models with the ability to transform from a 2D to 3D shape for flat-pack furniture. Lastly, this research results in a 1:4 scale furniture prototype.

Overall this research explores and evaluates the plausibility of large-scale applications for bio-based polymers and 4D printing technology. In addition, it reveals the challenges involved in this process and provides a reference point for the future development of material and design.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Industrial Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Title

Large-scale 4D printing with bio-based polymers

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design Innovation


Miller, Tim; Fraser, Simon