Magnetically assisted slip casting of bioinspired heterogeneous composites

Nat Mater. 2015 Nov;14(11):1172-9. doi: 10.1038/nmat4419. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Natural composites are often heterogeneous to fulfil functional demands. Manufacturing analogous materials remains difficult, however, owing to the lack of adequate and easily accessible processing tools. Here, we report an additive manufacturing platform able to fabricate complex-shaped parts exhibiting bioinspired heterogeneous microstructures with locally tunable texture, composition and properties, as well as unprecedentedly high volume fractions of inorganic phase (up to 100%). The technology combines an aqueous-based slip-casting process with magnetically directed particle assembly to create programmed microstructural designs using anisotropic stiff platelets in a ceramic, metal or polymer functional matrix. Using quantitative tools to control the casting kinetics and the temporal pattern of the applied magnetic fields, we demonstrate that this approach is robust and can be exploited to design and fabricate heterogeneous composites with thus far inaccessible microstructures. Proof-of-concept examples include bulk composites with periodic patterns of microreinforcement orientation, and tooth-like bilayer parts with intricate shapes exhibiting site-specific composition and texture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum / chemistry*
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemistry*
  • Ceramics / chemistry*
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Fields*


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Aluminum