4-dimensional printing (4D printing; also known as 4D bioprinting, active origami, or shape-morphing systems) uses the same techniques of 3D printing through computer-programmed deposition of material in successive layers to create a three-dimensional object.
The potential uses are wide. For example, materials that can contract or expand based on the temperature. This has applications in clothing based on how cold you are, and others speculate about boxes that collapse themselves. Most of these are still in the research stage however, so we will need to see how the technology develops. In addition, there are industrial uses for self-assembling models in places that are hard to build in, like in space.
An interesting application is 4D printing valve that opens and closes with differences in water temperature. Applications in case like the one mentioned before, could give a sort of autonomy and self setting to some systems that could be difficult to monitor, as Space missions or Mars terraforming.
4D printing, like several new technologies, is inspired by biomimesis, as shown in the image attached here
Wyss Institute – Harvard University experience