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3D printing technology is decades old, and it is also being used successfully in pharmaceuticals. In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first specific manufactured using incremental technology. It's a medicinal product used in the treatment of epilepsy, whose advantages over a traditional tablet are a rapid onset of action (a tablet that disintegrates in the mouth) and a high content of the active substance.

In Europe, so far, no medicinal product produced using 3D printing has been registered. Work on such a solution is underway in Wroclaw, among other places.

This is how the drug is made

Nearly PLN 200,000 was granted by the National Science Center for the implementation of a project by Marta Kozakiewicz-Latała from the Department of Drug Formulation Technology of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Medical University. The task is entitled: "Understanding the miscibility of drug/polymer/plasticizer systems and its impact on the mechanical properties of polymeric filaments for processing in FDM incremental technology."

In our project, it will be crucial to evaluate how the miscibility of the drug, polymer and plasticizer affects the quality and properties of the material used for printing, i.e. the filament.

Marta Kozakiewicz-Latała, project coordinator

Filament is a thermoplastic material that looks like spaghetti noodles. However, if it is to be used for 3D drug production, scientists need to carefully determine the proportions and properties of the materials: polymers and therapeutic and auxiliary substances (so-called plasticizers).

The materials in powdered form are mixed together and then subjected to a hot extrusion process at a controlled temperature and pressure. Ultimately, they must form a homogeneous mixture, which will affect the stability and uniformity of the active ingredient content in the printed tablets.

3D printing for the benefit of the patient

The success of the project is an opportunity for benefits in several dimensions:

  • It will enable a process for producing patient-specific drugs. This, in turn, would provide an opportunity to improve the quality of life of patients and reduce the risk of side effects;
  • 3D printing will make it possible to design a drug of any shape. This provides control over the amount of active ingredient released from a dose of the drug per unit time;
  • through the use of different materials, the tablet can contain different active substances in each layer. As a result, a patient taking multiple drugs could take them in one personalized pill.