3D printing of functional microrobots

Jinhua Li, Martin Pumera

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


3D printing (also called “additive manufacturing” or “rapid prototyping”) is able to translate computer-aided and designed virtual 3D models into 3D tangible constructs/objects through a layer-by-layer deposition approach. Since its introduction, 3D printing has aroused enormous interest among researchers and engineers to understand the fabrication process and composition-structure-property correlation of printed 3D objects and unleash its great potential for application in a variety of industrial sectors. Because of its unique technological advantages, 3D printing can definitely benefit the field of microrobotics and advance the design and development of functional microrobots in a customized manner. This review aims to present a generic overview of 3D printing for functional microrobots. The most applicable 3D printing techniques, with a focus on laser-based printing, are introduced for the 3D microfabrication of microrobots. 3D-printable materials for fabricating microrobots are reviewed in detail, including photopolymers, photo-crosslinkable hydrogels, and cell-laden hydrogels. The representative applications of 3D-printed microrobots with rational designs heretofore give evidence of how these printed microrobots are being exploited in the medical, environmental, and other relevant fields. A future outlook on the 3D printing of microrobots is also provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2794-2838
Number of pages45
JournalChemical Society reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb 21

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr Jinhua Li received his PhD in Materials Science in 2016 from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. From 2016 to 2018, he worked at the University of Hong Kong as a postdoctoral researcher. Afterwards, he came to the Dresden University of Technology (Germany) and worked as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow from 2018 to 2020. He is currently a scientist at the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, with his own research fellowship supported by the European Structural and Investment Funds. His main research interests focus on biomaterials and functional micro/nanorobotics.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)


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