Limpet Tooth-Inspired Painless Microneedles Fabricated by Magnetic Field-Assisted 3D Printing

Xiangjia Li, Weitong Shan, Yang Yang, Dylan Joralmon, Yizhen Zhu, Yiyu Chen, Yuan Yuan, Han Xu, Jiahui Rong, Rui Dai, Qiong Nian, Yang Chai, Yong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Microneedle arrays show many advantages in drug delivery applications due to their convenience and reduced risk of infection. Compared to other microscale manufacturing methods, 3D printing easily overcomes challenges in the fabrication of microneedles with complex geometric shapes and multifunctional performance. However, due to material characteristics and limitations on printing capability, there are still bottlenecks to overcome for 3D printed microneedles to achieve the mechanical performance needed for various clinical applications. The hierarchical structures in limpet teeth, which are extraordinarily strong, result from aligned fibers of mineralized tissue and protein-based polymer reinforced frameworks. These structures provide design inspiration for mechanically reinforced biomedical microneedles. Here, a bioinspired microneedle array is fabricated using magnetic field-assisted 3D printing (MF-3DP). Micro-bundles of aligned iron oxide nanoparticles (aIOs) are encapsulated by polymer matrix during the printing process. A bioinspired 3D-printed painless microneedle array is fabricated, and suitability of this microneedle patch for drug delivery during long-term wear is demonstrated. The results reported here provide insights into how the geometrical morphology of microneedles can be optimized for the painless drug delivery in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2003725
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 27 2021


  • 3D printing
  • limpet teeth
  • magnetic field
  • mechanical reinforcement
  • microneedles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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