Four-dimensional printing using fused-deposition modeling: a review

John Carrell, Garrett Gruss, Elizabeth Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to provide a review of four-dimensional (4D) printing using fused-deposition modeling (FDM). 4D printing is an emerging innovation in (three-dimensional) 3D printing that encompasses active materials in the printing process to create not only a 3D object but also a 3D object that can perform an active function. FDM is the most accessible form of 3D printing. By providing a review of 4D printing with FDM, this paper has the potential in educating the many FDM 3D printers in an additional capability with 4D printing. Design/methodology/approach: This is a review paper. The approach was to search for and review peer-reviewed papers and works concerning 4D printing using FDM. With this discussion of the shape memory effect, shape memory polymers and FDM were also made. Findings: 4D printing has become a burgeoning area in addivitive manufacturing research with many papers being produced within the past 3-5 years. This is especially true for 4D printing using FDM. The key findings from this review show the materials and material composites used for 4D printing with FDM and the limitations with 4D printing with FDM. Research limitations/implications: Limitations to this paper are with the availability of papers for review. 4D printing is an emerging area of additive manufacturing research. While FDM is a predominant method of 3D printing, it is not a predominant method for 4D printing. This is because of the limitations of FDM, which can only print with thermoplastics. With the popularity of FDM and the emergence of 4D printing, however, this review paper will provide key resources for reference for users that may be interested in 4D printing and have access to a FDM printer. Practical implications: Practically, FDM is the most popular method for 3D printing. Review of 4D printing using FDM will provide a necessary resource for FDM 3D printing users and researchers with a potential avenue for design, printing, training and actuation of active parts and mechanisms. Social implications: Continuing with the popularity of FDM among 3D printing methods, a review paper like this can provide an initial and simple step into 4D printing for researchers. From continued research, the potential to engage general audiences becomes more likely, especially a general audience that has FDM printers. An increase in 4D printing could potentially lead to more designs and applications of 4D printed devices in impactful fields, such as biomedical, aerospace and sustainable engineering. Overall, the change and inclusion of technology from 4D printing could have a potential social impact that encourages the design and manufacture of such devices and the treatment of said devices to the public. Originality/value: There are other 4D printing review papers available, but this paper is the only one that focuses specifically on FDM. Other review papers provide brief commentary on the different processes of 4D printing including FDM. With the specialization of 4D printing using FDM, a more in-depth commentary results in this paper. This will provide many FDM 3D printing users with additional knowledge that can spur more creative research in 4D printing. Further, this paper can provide the impetus for the practical use of 4D printing in more general and educational settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-869
Number of pages15
JournalRapid Prototyping Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 19 2020


  • 4D printing
  • Fused deposition modelling
  • Shape memory polymers


Dive into the research topics of 'Four-dimensional printing using fused-deposition modeling: a review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this