associated with a significant increase in chemical, physical as well
as microbial stability challenges.
Inkjet printing offers another solution to provide individualisation
of dosing. The technique has been adapted for pharmaceutical
applications by replacing the ink with pharmaceutical solutions
containing drugs which are then printed on an edible sheet, as
the substrate. The technology, nevertheless, appeared to be more
suitable for drugs with a significantly lower dose, whilst drugs that
require high doses have proven to be impractical when printed
using such an approach.
3D printing of medicines
3D printing of pharmaceuticals is a single step process which
eliminates the stages involved in conventional or mass
manufacturing units. The technology has the ability to fabricate a
product with complex geometries that is impossible to produce
with traditional manufacturing. The major challenge is to convert
the 3D printer into a small tablet-manufacturing unit. Such a
conversion will allow the production of tablets at a fraction of the
cost and size of regular pharmaceutical equipment.
Our research team at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical
Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, UK, has developed a
drug-polymer filament system that can replace the original
filaments in a Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 3D printer. It
was possible to dictate the target dose of 3D printed tablets by
manipulating the volume of the tablet’s design.
developed a pharmaceutical ‘ink’ which allowed the team to print
a challenging tablet design with significant improvement of
appearance and high accuracy of tablet weight and dose.
Thermal analysis and X-ray powder diffraction indicated that the
tested drug was in the crystalline form following the 3D printing
drugs released from HME produced filament were
decelerated after FDM 3D printing. Owing to this technology, the
invented system can provide medical institutions with a new option
and maintain dosage form properties while accurately adjusting
the dose with a simple command from a computer’s software.
Achieving similar results with traditional methods would involve the
use of large facilities, experienced operators and significant capital
investment. Ultimately, such a dispensing unit can be kept in a
hospital or community pharmacy for patients who continuously
need to change their daily dose or drug combination.
The novel technique developed by UCLan uses a 3D printer to
‘print’ a tablet of medicine with realistic quantities that can be
taken by a patient. The printer can replicate drugs that are already
available in pharmacies and hospitals, but more importantly it can
tailor medicines directly to an individual patient’s needs. Our team
has opened up significant opportunities in the pharmaceutical
world particularly around personalisation of medicines.
Future trends and more applications
Imagine the possibility of having diagnosis to be conducted at
home via a drop of blood sample and the subsequent
manufacturing of the drug at home using a prescribed protocol
based on the individual’s acquired clinical and molecular data.
The dose and choice of therapy are also maximised based on the
genetic and molecular markers identified from the patient. It is
indeed a challenging and an exciting journey to be able to provide
a quick but precise diagnosis and tailored treatment to improve
D Raijada, N Genina, D Fors, E Wisaeus, J Peltonen, J Rantanen, N Sandler,A
step toward development of printable dosage forms for poorly soluble drugs,
Journal of pharmaceutical sciences,
102 (2013) 3694-3704.
S W Hill,A S Varker, K Karlage, P B Myrdal,Analysis of drug content and weight
uniformity for half-tablets of 6 commonly split medications,
managed care pharmacy
: JMCP, 15 (2009) 253-261.
V P Shah, L A Yamamoto, D Schuirman, J Elkins, J P Skelly,Analysis of
dissolution of whole
half controlled-release theophylline tablets,
4 (1987) 416-419.
J Erramouspe, E J Jarvi, Effect on dissolution from halving methylphenidate
The Annals of pharmacotherapy,
D Brown, J L Ford,A J Nunn, P H Rowe,An assessment of dose-uniformity of
samples delivered from paediatric oral droppers,
Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
29 (2004) 521-529.
6 J Skowyra, K Pietrzak, M A Alhnan, Fabrication of extended-release patient-
tailored prednisolone tablets via fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D
printing, European journal of pharmaceutical sciences:
official journal of the
European Federation for Pharmaceutical Sciences,
68 (2015) 11-17.
Lecturer in Pharmaceutics
+44 (0)1772 893590MAlbedAlhnan@uclan.ac.uk
Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics
School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
University of Central Lancashire, UK
+44 (0)1772 89 email@example.com http://www.uclan.ac.uk/schools/pharmacy/ www.horizon2020projects.com
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S E V E N
P R O F I L E
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : H E A L T H & W E L L B E I N G
Fig. 2 Controlled release anti-asthmatic tablets with adjustable dose
are possible to fabricate using a bench-top 3D printer (Source: UCLan)