3D-Printed Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites by Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM): Fiber Length and Fiber Implementation Techniques

Polymers (Basel). 2022 Nov 1;14(21):4659. doi: 10.3390/polym14214659.


Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is an actively growing additive manufacturing (AM) technology due to its ability to produce complex shapes in a short time. AM, also known as 3-dimensional printing (3DP), creates the desired shape by adding material, preferably by layering contoured layers on top of each other. The need for low cost, design flexibility and automated manufacturing processes in industry has triggered the development of FDM. However, the mechanical properties of FDM printed parts are still weaker compared to conventionally manufactured products. Numerous studies and research have already been carried out to improve the mechanical properties of FDM printed parts. Reinforce polymer matrix with fiber is one of the possible solutions. Furthermore, reinforcement can enhance the thermal and electrical properties of FDM printed parts. Various types of fibers and manufacturing methods can be adopted to reinforce the polymer matrix for different desired outcomes. This review emphasizes the fiber types and fiber insertion techniques of FDM 3D printed fiber reinforcement polymer composites. A brief overview of fused deposition modelling, polymer sintering and voids formation during FDM printing is provided, followed by the basis of fiber reinforced polymer composites, type of fibers (synthetic fibers vs. natural fibers, continuous vs. discontinuous fiber) and the composites' performance. In addition, three different manufacturing methods of fiber reinforced thermoplastics based on the timing and location of embedding the fibers, namely 'embedding before the printing process (M1)', 'embedding in the nozzle (M2)', and 'embedding on the component (M3)', are also briefly reviewed. The performance of the composites produced by three different methods were then discussed.

Keywords: 3D printing; additive manufacturing; continuous fiber; fiber reinforced polymer composites; fiber reinforced thermoplastics; fused filament fabrication; short fiber.

Publication types

  • Review