ARE 3D PRINTERS GOING TO ...

Layer by layer – 3D printers are going to change healthcare.

Pills created by a 3D printer provide new prospects for the supply chain

Long gone are the times when objects created by a 3D printer looked like the cheapest of mold cast plastic toys. In the meantime, the products range from cars to a house, clean and precise, layer-by-layer, produced by a 3D printer. The printers as well as the printing stock have undergone amazing development in this short space of time. Now the ideas as to what can be printed on site and in a jiffy cover almost anything, from food to organs, from spare parts to complete consumer goods – researchers are working on several of these already.

The 3D printer open prospects for the medical sector. In addition to the organs for replacement, mentioned here, there are already patients who received individually 3D printed artificial hip bones, people with 3D printed dentures and babies with life-saving 3D printed windpipe implants. A procedure to enable broken bones to heal using a custom splint 3D printed with the aid of an ultrasound application, received a design award.

Additives procedures and custom production present new prospects for pharmaceutical companies

Doubtless, the pharmaceutical industry is interested in smart methods to use 3D printing procedures. The American company Aprecia Pharmaceuticals developed Spritam, a pill to treat epilepsy. By using the additive 3D printing procedure, applying layer by layer, it is possible to compress the active substance Levetiracetam even more than with the current production method. This makes the pills smaller and easier to swallow. This method also enables the amount of the active substance to be tailored more effectively for the individual patient.

In the event that hospitals were to print medicines, pharmaceutical logistics would change. Instead of medicines, active substances and printer compatible carrier materials would require transportation – a larger volume with less variants, as the dosage and the amount to be supplied would be determined on location. Minimum orders would then be unnecessary.

The result: less packaging material and a smaller volume. In addition, storages will then be smaller and therefore centrally located, probably resulting in less transportation. However, printers, spare parts and consumables must be authorised, maintained and operated, originals and samples will be required. On the whole, there will be different chances to participate in the supply chain and increase the customer service.

The fact that individual production by means of 3D printing will replace the marketed mass productions is unlikely in the near future. To date, the industrial mass production is faster and thus more cost efficient – despite computer controlled 3D printers and automated production.

 


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Pharmaceutical Journal
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The Washington Post
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Pharmacy Times
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