Current additive manufacturing methods present the potential to construct net-shape structures with complicated architectures, thus eliminating the need for multi-step processing and fasteners/joints. Combined with these features is the ability to ascribe material properties at the sub-millimeter scale, inspiring multi-material, functionally graded designs. These features make additive manufacturing an attractive option for composite materials development. In an effort to extend this family of technologies beyond nano- and micro-composites, we explore the additive manufacture of multi-directional composite preforms. This exercise has served to highlight the aspects of additive manufacturing critical to composite and general materials processing, as well as to demonstrate the high fidelity between modeled and additively manufactured structures. Within the scope of composites development, we review the state-of-the-art and discuss challenges facing the broad adoption of additive manufacturing for directionally reinforced composites processing.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2015.05.001