Shark Skin Biomimetic Fabrics

3D Printed Biomimicry

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a 3D-printed fabric that mimics the surface of shark skin. These surface features enhance certain textile applications and properties, including water drag reduction, mechanical properties, water wicking properties, and antimicrobial properties.

The precision of 3D printing creates extremely biosimilar surface properties, which enhances the fabric performance. Ongoing study of the fabric has produced promising hydrodynamic, strength (durability), and antimicrobial data.


Biomimicry utilizes naturally occurring patterns or motifs to solve human challenges. It has been recently recognized as an innovative strategy for developing functional clothing and textiles. In one biomimetic development, tooth-like structures (also called denticles) that cover the shark skin surface are believed to play an important role in hydrodynamic effects. Current similar products attempt to recreate the properties provided by the denticles by imparting some marginal texture to surfaces. These imitations may impart some properties but do not fully mimic the shark skin enough to provide all the properties thought to be provided by denticles.


Researchers have utilized the precision of 3D printing to accurately recreate the shark skin denticle structure. By recreating the exact structure found on shark skin, researchers have discovered functional clothing using this technology may perform better than synthetic surface structures and impart the effects of natural shark skin. These structures provide hydrodynamic and antimicrobial properties, and have shown enhanced durability for use in performance fabrics.


  • Closer imitation of natural shark skin texture
  • Tunability of properties such as hydrodynamics
  • Customization of materials and shapes from 3D printing process
  • Enhanced antimicrobial properties
  • Durable surface texture for long lasting performance


  • Performance fabrics
    • Swimsuits
    • Outdoor clothing and gear
    • Durable upholstery
    • High touch interior fabrics, such as public transportation seats, airplanes, and taxis
  • 3D printed materials
    • Medical devices
    • High touch-point areas that are hard to clean
    • High flow rate materials, such as pipes or pumps
Last Updated: March 2023
Water on textile image

Available for Licensing
TRL: 3

IP Status

US Provisional Patent


Yan Vivian Li
Jiayi Wen
Saloni Purandare

Reference Number
Licensing Manager

Jessy McGowan