3D Printing-Enabled Nanoparticle Alignment: A Review of Mechanisms and Applications

Weiheng Xu, Sayli Jambhulkar, Dharneedar Ravichandran, Yuxiang Zhu, Mounika Kakarla, Qiong Nian, Bruno Azeredo, Xiangfan Chen, Kailong Jin, Brent Vernon, David G. Lott, Jeffrey L. Cornella, Orit Shefi, Guillaume Miquelard-Garnier, Yang Yang, Kenan Song

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


3D printing (additive manufacturing (AM)) has enormous potential for rapid tooling and mass production due to its design flexibility and significant reduction of the timeline from design to manufacturing. The current state-of-the-art in 3D printing focuses on material manufacturability and engineering applications. However, there still exists the bottleneck of low printing resolution and processing rates, especially when nanomaterials need tailorable orders at different scales. An interesting phenomenon is the preferential alignment of nanoparticles that enhance material properties. Therefore, this review emphasizes the landscape of nanoparticle alignment in the context of 3D printing. Herein, a brief overview of 3D printing is provided, followed by a comprehensive summary of the 3D printing-enabled nanoparticle alignment in well-established and in-house customized 3D printing mechanisms that can lead to selective deposition and preferential orientation of nanoparticles. Subsequently, it is listed that typical applications that utilized the properties of ordered nanoparticles (e.g., structural composites, heat conductors, chemo-resistive sensors, engineered surfaces, tissue scaffolds, and actuators based on structural and functional property improvement). This review's emphasis is on the particle alignment methodology and the performance of composites incorporating aligned nanoparticles. In the end, significant limitations of current 3D printing techniques are identified together with future perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2100817
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 11 2021


  • 3D printing
  • alignment
  • composites
  • nanoparticles
  • polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials


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