Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

What is 5D Printing? (A Comprehensive Guide)


In recent years, there have been significant advancements in additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology. However, an even more intricate and cutting-edge method has emerged called 5D printing technology.

While the foundations of 3D printing technology are well-known and widely-utilised, 5D printing is a new technique that offers more versatility and capabilities. The principal difference lies in the way the printers move during production. 5D printers have a moving plateau that allows the printhead to create pieces from five dimensions, including curved layers, whereas 3D printers generally produce flat layers on a fixed plateau. This unique ability to produce curved layers results in more complex, stronger, and versatile parts, making 5D printing a highly desirable emerging technology for various industries.


Click the links below to skip to the section in the guide:


TWI is an Industrial Membership based organisation. TWI's experts can provide your company with an extension to your own resources. Our experts are dedicated to helping industry improve safety, quality, efficiency and profitability in all aspects of materials joining technology. Industrial Membership of TWI currently extends to over 600 companies worldwide, embracing all industrial sectors.

You can find out more by contacting us, below:

What is 5D Printing?

5D printing is an emerging manufacturing technology that builds on the foundations of additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing). This innovative approach allows for the creation of complex shaped objects with improved strength and precision compared to traditional 3D printing methods.

The term 5D printing refers to the five-axis movements involved in the process. While conventional 3D printers use a print head that moves in the X, Y, and Z directions, 5D printing adds two more axes of movement to the printing bed, allowing it to move simultaneously with the print head. This expanded range of motion allows for greater control over the printing process and enables the creation of intricate designs with ease.

5D printing combines both subtractive and additive techniques, leading to parts that are strong and suitable for more demanding applications. By carefully analysing how the printed parts will be used, it is possible to optimise the design to ensure optimal performance. As a result, this technology is particularly useful for crafting complex structures that require high strength and precision.

Typical applications of 5D printing include orthopaedic and dentistry surgery tools, where intricate designs and high strength are crucial for success. Additionally, the automotive and aerospace industries are among those who continue to explore the capabilities of 5D printing as a means to develop lightweight and durable components.

In summary, 5D printing is an advanced manufacturing method that utilises complex axis movements and a combination of additive and subtractive techniques. Its ability to create intricately shaped, strong, and precise items makes it an ideal choice for various industries seeking to push the boundaries of traditional 3D printing.

How Does 5D Printing Work?

5D printing, as with 3D printing, uses a printing technique that allows the printing head to move in the x, y, and z-directions. Additionally, with 5D printing, the printing bed can move in two directions, resulting in a total of five axes of movement. This flexibility allows printed objects to be created with curved layers, enhancing their strength and longevity.

When creating objects layer-by-layer using a 5D printer, both the print head and printing bed can move simultaneously. So, by printing at various angles, we can produce parts that are three to five times stronger than conventional 3D printed parts.

The primary advantage of 5D printing lies in this improved strength of the printed objects. When using curved layers, we can eliminate weak points commonly found in 3D printed objects. Tests conducted on 5D printed items have demonstrated their increased durability compared to traditional 3D printing.

Some key aspects of 5D printing that make it unique are:

  • Enhanced strength and durability of printed objects
  • Flexibility in printing direction
  • Use of curved layers to prevent weak points

As we continue to explore and develop 5D printing technology, it'll provide us with new opportunities for creating more complex and robust products in various industries.

Differences between 3D, 4D, and 5D

In this section, we will explore the differences between 3D, 4D, and 5D printing to provide a better understanding of the technology.

The below table of comparison highlights key distinctions between 3D, 4D and 5D printing methods:

Table of Comparison



Key Features


3D Printing

3 Axes (X, Y, Z)

Prints flat layers on a fixed plateau

Typical desktop and industrial 3D printers

4D Printing

3 Axes + smart materials

Prints objects that respond to external stimuli and change shape over time

Self-assembling structures, smart textiles

5D Printing

5 Axes (X, Y, Z, Rotation of X and Y)

Has a moving plateau; prints curved layers; stronger 5D printed parts

Complex structures with curved layers, housing components

3D printing is a process where objects are created through the successive layering of a material. In 3D printing, the printer head moves along three linear axes: X, Y, and Z, which correspond to width, length, and height directions. This method requires the printhead to create flat layers on a fixed plateau.

Building upon 3D printing is 4D printing, which adds the use of smart materials to the 3D technique. By integrating smart materials, 4D printed objects can change shape based on external stimuli. These stimuli can include temperature and humidity, creating versatile applications such as self-assembling structures and adaptive clothing.

5D printing goes a step further by introducing a moving plateau, enabling the printhead to print curved layers and create objects with intricate geometries. With this technology, 5D printed parts are significantly stronger than their 3D and 4D counterparts. The 5D printer has five axes, encompassing the X, Y, Z axes along with the rotation of the X and Y axes, allowing for more freedom in design and greater strength in the final product.

Advantages of 5D Printing

There are several advantages of 5D printing over traditional 3D printing. One of the main benefits is that fewer supports are required to print intricate and complex models. This not only saves time, but also reduces material waste and simplifies the process.

Strength is another key aspect of 5D printing. By utilising different angles and additional axes, 5D prints are often three to five times stronger than their 3D counterparts. This enables the creation of incredibly robust parts, while still maintaining precision and detail.

With the need for infill and supports significantly reduced, 5D printing often uses less material. This not only cuts costs but also contributes to a more eco-friendly manufacturing process. Additionally, the refined accuracy of 5D printing results in higher-quality prints with less post-processing required. This means less time spent on finishing touches and a generally more efficient workflow.

Challenges and Limitations of 5D Printing

As an emerging technology, 5D printing presents several challenges and limitations that we need to consider. There are limited options available for 5D printing, and a majority of these options are aimed at industrial use or come with expensive price tags.

Another potential obstacle is the limited support for 5D printing in comparison to 3D printing. Users might need to rely on independently learning the technology or seeking out resources specific to 5D printing, as established support networks may not exist yet.

Creating and slicing models for 5-dimensional printing can also be quite complex, and slicing software has not kept up with these advancements. Most slicing programs do not support true 3D printing, let alone 5-axis printing. Thus, designing intricate structures and managing the additional axes in 5D printing requires a higher level of expertise.

Finally, as 5D printing is still in the early stages of development, skilled resources to develop and maintain 5D printers are scarce. This may lead to increased costs and complexities in implementing 5D printing solutions.

Applications of 5D Printing

Several applications of 5D printing technology have seen significant advancements in recent years.

One of the noteworthy applications lies within the healthcare sector.5D printing technology offers improvements for dentistry, orthopaedic surgery, prosthetics, and surgical equipment, thereby paving the way for better medical treatment and patient care.

Another exciting domain is the food industry, where 5D printing technologies are being explored for possible use. The hybrid capabilities of 5D printing, which combine subtractive and additive manufacturing, could potential enhance the creation of innovative and healthier food products.

The construction and automobile industries also stand to benefit from the implementation of 5D printing technology. This innovative approach can enable the production of finer, curved structures with increased design complexity, which can further contribute to the efficiency and aesthetics of both these sectors.

Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) are at the forefront of developing 5D printing technologies. William Yerazunis, a Ph.D senior principal research scientist at MERL, and his team of dedicated researchers are working to push the boundaries of what 5D printing can achieve.

5D printing has a promising future across various industries, thanks to its ability to create complex, curved structures and improve manufacturing methods. As we continue to develop and experiment with this technology, it is only a matter of time before its full potential is unlocked and widely adopted by multiple sectors.

Future of 5D Printing

In the world of additive manufacturing, we believe that 5D printing will play a significant role in pushing the boundaries of what is currently possible.

As the technology continues to advance, we expect to see a variety of applications across multiple industries. One promising area is in high-pressure applications within the medical and manufacturing sectors. Researchers are currently working on increasing the capacity to withstand pressure up to 3.4 Mpa, making it suitable for more demanding environments.

The healthcare field, in particular, could witness substantial progress, with the potential for 5D printing to provide tailored medical solutions that cater to individual patients' needs.

New possibilities for food production are also on the horizon, which could open up a whole new frontier, allowing for greater customisation and enhanced functionality in the preparation and presentation of meals across multiple settings, including restaurants and home kitchens alike.


5D printing is a hybrid technology that combines both additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques. It enables the production of incredibly intricate and curved structures through the use of three movement axes (X, Y, and Z) and two rotational axes. As a result, 5D printing offers significant advantages in terms of strength and complexity over 3D and 4D printing methods.

5D printing has a wide range of potential applications, particularly in industries that require high-strength and complex components, such as aerospace, marine, medical, and manufacturing. Research in this field is ongoing, with the aim of increasing its capacity to withstand even higher levels of pressure (up to 3.4 MPa).

As we continue to refine our understanding and develop new techniques, 5D printing could become a game-changer in the way we design and manufacture products. However, it is essential that we remain diligent and cautious in our approach, ensuring that the technology's capabilities are not overstated, and that potential risks and challenges are addressed.


How is 5D Printing Different from 3D Printing?

In 5D printing, as with 3D printing, the printing head can move in the x, y, and z directions, however, unlike with 3D printing, 5D allows the printing bed to move in two additional directions. This allows the print head and bed to move simultaneously during printing, resulting in more complex and stronger printed objects compared to traditional 3D printing.

What Materials Can Be Used in 5D Printing?

Similar to 3D printing, 5D printing utilises a range of printing materials to create objects. These can include various plastics, metals, and composite materials. However, since 5D printing technology is still in its early stages, material options may expand in the future.

What are Some Examples of 5D Printed Objects?

5D printed objects often have complex structures that require a significant amount of strength. As 5D printing technology develops, we can expect to see objects in industries like automotive, aerospace, and construction, where strength and complexity are essential.

Is 5D Printing Expensive?

At the moment, since 5D printing technology is still relatively new, meaning it is more expensive than traditional 3D printing. However, as the technology advances and becomes more widespread, we can expect the costs to decrease and become more affordable for various industries.

Can 5D Printing Be Used for Mass Production?

Currently, 5D printing is more suitable for creating small-scale, bespoke, or complex objects. As the technology continues to develop, we may see it integrated into mass production processes – particularly for objects that require enhanced strength and more intricate designs.

How Can I Get Started with 5D Printing?

Those interested in exploring 5D printing should keep an eye on the latest developments and advancements in the field. Engage with industry experts, attend conferences, or participate in online forums to learn more about the capabilities and applications of 5D printing technology.

For more information please email: