RSC Adv. 2023 Jan 6;13(2):1456-1496. doi: 10.1039/d2ra06522c. eCollection 2023 Jan 3.
The synthesis and manufacturing of polymer nanocomposites have garnered interest in recent research and development because of their superiority compared to traditionally employed industrial materials. Specifically, polymer nanocomposites offer higher strength, stronger resistance to corrosion or erosion, adaptable production techniques, and lower costs. The vat photopolymerization (VPP) process is a group of additive manufacturing (AM) techniques that provide the benefit of relatively low cost, maximum flexibility, high accuracy, and complexity of the printed parts. In the past few years, there has been a rapid increase in the understanding of VPP-based processes, such as high-resolution AM methods to print intricate polymer parts. The synergistic integration of nanocomposites and VPP-based 3D printing processes has opened a gateway to the future and is soon expected to surpass traditional manufacturing techniques. This review aims to provide a theoretical background and the engineering capabilities of VPP with a focus on the polymerization of nanocomposite polymer resins. Specifically, the configuration, classification, and factors affecting VPP are summarized in detail. Furthermore, different challenges in the preparation of polymer nanocomposites are discussed together with their pre- and post-processing, where several constraints and limitations that hinder their printability and photo curability are critically discussed. The main focus is the applications of printed polymer nanocomposites and the enhancement in their properties such as mechanical, biomedical, thermal, electrical, and magnetic properties. Recent literature, mainly in the past three years, is critically discussed and the main contributing results in terms of applications are summarized in the form of tables. The goal of this work is to provide researchers with a comprehensive and updated understanding of the underlying difficulties and potential benefits of VPP-based 3D printing of polymer nanocomposites. It will also help readers to systematically reveal the research problems, gaps, challenges, and promising future directions related to polymer nanocomposites and VPP processes.