A critical review of fused deposition modeling 3D printing technology in manufacturing polylactic acid parts


Different from other 3D printing techniques such as selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA), three-dimensional printing (3DP), and laminated object manufacturing (LOM), the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology is widely used in aerospace, automobile making, bio-medicals, smart home, stationery and training aids, and creative gifts for its easy use, simple operation, and low cost. The polylactic acid (PLA) is a material most extensively applied in FDM technology for its low melting point, non-poison, non-irritation, and sound biocompatibility. The FDM 3D-printed PLA parts are a research hotspot in the 3D printing field. This paper is intended to sum up the latest research results and achievements made in recent years in the interface bonding property, mechanical properties, and shape precision promotion of FDM 3D-printed PLA parts as well as the functional expansion of the PLA parts based on vast domestic and overseas literature. The literature research collection focuses on the following two aspects: one is the macroscopic technical research on the optimal settings of key technological parameters; the other one is the PLA modification research on improvement of cross-linking state and crystallinity of PLA molecular chains, carbon reinforced phase modification of PLA, and PLA functional compound modification. The researches in the two aspects are of importance in improving whole properties, enhancing functional applications, and expanding and enriching the applications of FDM 3D-printed PLA parts. This paper is expected to give some helps and references to the researchers who are specializing in the 3D printing field.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Vaezi M, Seitz H, Yang S (2013) A review on 3d micro-additive manufacturing technologies. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 67(5–8):1721–1754

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Wall M. Space station’s 3d printer makes wrench from “beamed up” design. https://www.space.com/28095-3d-printer-space-station-ratchet-wrench.html. 2014-12-23

  3. 3.

    Anderson J. Full Circle: NASA to demonstrate refabricator to recycle, reuse, repeat. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/centers/marshall/images/refabricator.html. 2017-08-28

  4. 4.

    Cuiffo MA, Snyder J, Elliott AM (2017) Impact of the fused deposition (FDM) printing process on polylactic acid (PLA) chemistry and structure. Appl Sci 7(6):579

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Gu P, Li L (2002) Fabrication of biomedical prototypes with locally controlled properties using FDM. CIRP Ann Manuf Technol 51(1):181–184

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kishore V, Ajinjeru C, Nycz A, Post B, Lindahl J, Kunc V (2016) Infrared preheating to improve interlayer strength of big area additive manufacturing (BAAM) components. Addit Manuf 14:756–765

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Lee CS, Kim SG, Kim HJ, Ahn SH (2007) Measurement of anisotropic compressive strength of rapid prototyping parts. J Mater Process Technol 188(12):627–630

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Levenhagen NP, Dadmun MD (2018) Interlayer diffusion of surface segregating additives to improve the isotropy of fused deposition modeling products. Polymer 17:546–601

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Sungmr Q, Bellehumeur C T, Gu P (2003) Experimental study of the cooling characteristics of polymer filaments in FDM and impact on the mesostructures and properties of prototypes. Proceedings of the 14th Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium 14:312–323

  10. 10.

    Sun Q, Rizvi GM, Bellehumeur CT, Gu P (2008) Effect of processing conditions onthe bonding quality of FDM polymer filaments. Rapid Prototyp J 14:72–80

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Wang YQ, Wang ZM, Shen CJ, Wu YL (2012) Research on enhancement of GFRP-anchor’s torsional strength. Sci Eng Compos Mater 19(4):423–429

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Wang YQ, Guo Y, Wang ZM, Wu YL (2014) Preparation and mechanical properties of nano-sillicaUPR polymer composite. Sci Eng Compos Mater 21(4):471–477

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Bellehumeur C, Li L, Sun Q, Gu P (2004) Modeling of bond formation between polymer filaments in the fused deposition modeling process. J Manuf Process 6(2):170–178

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Seth Collins P (1985) Fused deposition modeling with localized pre-deposition heating using forced air. Montana State Univ 41(10):1975–1975

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Ravi AK, Deshpande A, Hsu KH (2016) An in-process laser localized pre-deposition heating approach to inter-layer bond strengthening in extrusion based polymer additive manufacturing. J Manuf Process 24:179–185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Kishore V, Ajinjeru C, Nycz A, Post BK, Lindahl JM, Kunc V, Duty CE (2016) Infrared preheating to improve interlayer strength of big area additive manufacturing (BAAM) components. Addit Manuf 14:321–324

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Zhao C, Yang G (2015) Numerical simulation of a new nozzle based on the principle of FDM forming performance. Int J Control Autom 8:526–536

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Behzadnasab M, Yousefi A (2016) Effects of 3D printer nozzle head temperature on the physical and mechanical properties of PLA based product. Int Semin Polym Sci Technol 11:1256–1435

  19. 19.

    Bahnini I, Rivette M, Rechia A, Siadat A, Elmesbahi A (2018) Additive manufacturing technology: the status, applications, and prospects. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 2:1–15

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Torres J, Cole M, Owji A, Demastry Z, Gordon AP (2016) An approach for mechanical property optimization of fused deposition modeling with polylactic acid via design of experiments. Rapid Prototyp J 22(2):387–404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Shilpesh RR, Harshit KD (2018) Analysis of tensile strength of a fused filament fabricated PLA part using an open-source 3D printer. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 4:1–12

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Yang JH, Zhao ZJ, Park SH (2015) Evaluation of directional mechanical properties of 3D printed polymer parts. International Conference on Control IEEE

  23. 23.

    Vaezi M, Chua CK (2011) Effects of layer thickness and binder saturation level parameters on 3D printing process. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 53(4):275–284

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Jin ZF, Jin YF, Zhou M (2016) Research of processing property of PLA materials for 3D printing based on FDM. China Plast Ind 50:369–400

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Lu W, William G, Gardner M, Douglas J (2017) Improving the impact strength of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) in fused layer modeling (FLM). Polymer 114:242–248

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Patel DM (2017) Effects of infill patterns on time, surface roughness and tensile strength in 3D printing. IJEDR 5(3):2321–2341

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Torres J, Cotelo J, Karl J, Gordon AP (2015) Mechanical property optimization of FDM PLA in shear with multiple objectives. JOM 67(5):1183–1193

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Afrose MF, Masood SH, Iovenitti P, Nikzad M, Sbarski I (2015) Effects of part build orientations on fatigue behaviour of FDM-processed PLA material. Prog Addit Manuf 1(1–2):21–28

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Dae KA, Jin HK, Jin HC, Seok HL (2011) Relation between surface roughness and overlap interval in fused deposition modeling. Adv Mater Res 20(11):264–265

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Zhu ZJ, Shen JY, Jin JM (2016) The shrinkage analysis and control methods research of FDM products. Manuf Technol Mach Tool 12:29–32

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    S M, M K M, E P (2015) Feasibility study of ultrasonic frequency application on fdm to improve parts surface finish. Mpra Pap 77(32):456–464

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Wang DF, Zeng XY (2016) A method for the manufacture of additive in vibration condition, CN 105458264 A 1–5

  33. 33.

    Tabi T, Sajo IE, Szabo F, Hajba S (2010) Crystalline structure of annealed polylactic acid and its relation to processing. Express Polym Lett 4(10):659–668

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Jaszkiewicz A, Meljon A, Bledzki AK (2016) Mechanical and thermomechanical properties of pla/man-made cellulose green composites modified with functional chain extenders-a comprehensive study. Polym Compos 39:1716–1723

  35. 35.

    Levenhagen NP, Dadmun MD (2017) Bimodal molecular weight samples improve the isotropy of 3D printed polymeric samples. Polymer 122:232–241

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Tang Z, Zhang C, Liu X, Zhu J (2012) The crystallization behavior and mechanical properties of polylactic acid in the presence of a crystal nucleating agent. J Appl Polym Sci 125(2):1108–1115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Dai JX, Yang Q, Liu BJ (2013) Crystallization behavior of PLA/PEG/nucleating agent blends. Adv Mater Res 809:578–581

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Chen Y (2012) Effect of nucleating agent on crystallization behaviors and mechanical properties of PLA. Mod Plast Process Appl 4:235–245

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Li Y, Han C, Yu Y, Xiao L, Shao Y (2018) Crystallization behaviors of poly(lactic acid) composites fabricated using functionalized eggshell powder and poly(ethylene glycol). Thermochim Acta 663:67–76

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Zhang GH, Xiong W, Chen M, Liu XQ (2014) Crystallization behavior and mechanical properties of PLA/nucleating agent plasticized with PEG. J Shaanxi Univ Sci Technol 9:365–374

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Patanwala HS, Hong D, Vora SR, Bognet B, Ma WK (2017) The microstructure and mechanical properties of 3D printed carbon nanotube-polylactic acid composites. Polym Compos 10:1–12

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Ji SG, Cho D, Park WH, Lee BC (2010) Electron beam effect on the tensile properties and topology of jute fibers and the interfacial strength of jute-PLA green composites. Macromol Res 18(9):919–922

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Monti MC, Casapullo A, Riccio R (2004) Further insights on the structural aspects of PLA(2) inhibition by gamma-hydroxybutenolide-containing natural products: a comparative study on petrosaspongiolides M-R. Bioorg Med Chem 12(6):1467–1474

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Sweeney CB, Lackey BA, Pospisil MJ, Achee TC, Hicks VK, Moran AG (2017) Welding of 3D-printed carbon nanotube–polymer composites by locally induced microwave heating. Sci Adv 3(6):e1700262

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Shaffer S, Yang K, Vargas J, Prima MAD, Voit W (2014) On reducing anisotropy in 3D printed polymers via ionizing radiation. Polymer 55(23):5969–5979

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Ferreira RTL, Amatte IC, Dutra TA, Bürger D (2017) Experimental and micrography of 3D printed PLA and PLA reinforced with short carbon fibers. Compos B Eng 124:88–100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Tian X, Liu T, Yang C, Wang Q, Li D (2016) Interface and performance of 3D printed continuous carbon fiber reinforced PLA composites. Compos A Appl Sci Manuf 88:198–205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Li N, Li Y, Liu S (2016) Rapid prototyping of continuous carbon fiber reinforced polylactic acid composites by 3D printing. J Mater Process Technol 238:218–225

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Kuan CF, Kuan HC, Ma CCM, Chen CH (2008) Mechanical and electrical properties of multi-wall carbon nanotube/poly(lactic acid) composites. J Phys Chem Solids 69(5–6):1395–1398

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Yao YG, Mei-Na XU, Zhou GM (2017) On the development of biodegradable PLA/PBAT/PHBV blending 3D printing composite materials. J Zhejiang Fashion Inst Technol 10:458–465

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Liu W, Zhou J, Yongsheng LI, Wang J, Jie XU (2017) Influence of addition of ATBC on the preparation and properties of PLA/PCL filaments for FDM 3D printing. J Funct Mater 18:256–265

    Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Haq RHA, Mohd NAR, Ahmad MTA, Fahrul HM, Zaini YM, Adzila S (2017) Characterization and mechanical analysis of PCL/PLA composites for FDM feed stock filament. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 226(1):120–138

  53. 53.

    Mao D, Li Q, Li D, Chen Y, Chen X, Xu X (2018) Fabrication of 3D porous poly(lactic acid)-based composite scaffolds with tunable biodegradation for bone tissue engineering. Mater Des 30:268–295

    Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    BH Chi ,ZW Jiao ,FF Liu ,WM Yang (2016) Study on fabrication of CNT-based conductive products via melt differential 3D printer. Plastics 6(45):1–4

  55. 55.

    Kennedy ZC, Christ JF, Evans KA, Arey BW, Sweet LE, Warner MG (2017) 3D-printed poly(vinylidene fluoride)/carbon nanotube composites as a tunable, low-cost chemical vapour sensing platform. Nanoscale 9(17):5458–5466

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Kumaran A, Jeeva PA, Aravindh K (2017) Metallization of PLA plastics prepared by FDM-RP process and evaluation of corrosion and hardness characteristics. ICMMM 8(4):56–60

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Yang Y, Chen Y, Wei Y, Li Y (2016) 3D printing of shape memory polymer for functional part fabrication. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 84(9–12):2079–2095

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Zhao J, Xiangqun Z, Wenhai YU, Tian W, Luo K (2017) Fabrication of starch/PLA biodegradable 3D printing filaments toughened by glycerol. Mater Rev 6(4):89–99

    Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Daniel F, Patoary NH, Moore AL, Weiss L, Radadia AD (2018) Temperature-dependent electrical resistance of conductive polylactic acid filament for fused deposition modeling. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 4:1–10

    Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Zhang D, Chi B, Li B, Gao Z, Du Y, Guo J (2016) Fabrication of highly conductive graphene flexible circuits by 3d printing. Synth Met 217:79–86

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Yu WW, Zhang J, Wu JR (2017) Incorporation of graphitic nano-filler and poly(lactic acid) in fused deposition modeling. J Appl Polym Sci 134(15):1–11

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Narayanan LK, Huebner P, Fisher MB, Spang JT, Starly B, Shirwaiker RA (2016) 3D-bioprinting of polylactic acid (pla) nanofibers-alginate hydrogel bioink containing human adipose-derived stem cells. ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2(10):1732–1742

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Teixeira BN, Aprile P, Kelly DJ, Thiré RMSM (2017) Evaluation of BMSCs response to PLA scaffolds produced by FDM and coating with dopamine and collagen. Congresso Latino-Americano de Orgãos Artificiais e Biomateriais 20:560–580

  64. 64.

    Zhang HF, Du ZJ, Mao XY, ZhaoD Y, Du C, Jiang WB, Han D (2016) Experimental research of constructing tissue engineered bone using three-dimensional printed polylactic acid-hydroxyapatite composite scaffolds. Int J Orthop 37(1):57–63

    Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Dong HG (2010) Heparin-conjugated star-shaped pla for improved biocompatibility. J Biomed Mater Res A 86(3):842–848

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors would like to extend their thanks for the support of the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China University of Mining and Technology (2017XKQY008).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yanqing Wang.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Liu, Z., Wang, Y., Wu, B. et al. A critical review of fused deposition modeling 3D printing technology in manufacturing polylactic acid parts. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 102, 2877–2889 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00170-019-03332-x

Download citation


  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
  • Polylactic acid (PLA)
  • Mechanical properties
  • Functional expansion