Nov 23, 2017 | By David

We don’t hear as much about the 3D printing advances made down ol’ South America way as we do about those from other regions, but there’s nevertheless some important developments going on there, particularly in Argentina. We’ve written before about 3D bio-printing innovations in the country, and now its first 3D printer specifically designed for manufacturing pharmaceuticals has been completed.

The 3D drug printer is located at the National University of Cordoba (UNC), and the Faculty of Chemical Sciences has already been putting it to use.

3D printing of drugs has the potential to hugely disrupt the way the global pharmaceutical industry operates, making it more efficient and personalized. It’s already been taking distribution of drugs away from huge production facilities, enabling smaller batches that will also reduce the need for long-term storage at hospitals and other medical centers.

3D printing technology also means that the actual drugs themselves can be improved, with doses being customized according to the patient’s particular condition and biological needs, or specific tablet shapes being made that are easier to swallow. A 3D drug printer is still a relatively expensive and complicated piece of machinery, but as the technology develops it could eventually become a common everyday item, making pharmaceutical help much more accessible for those in need.

The 3D drug printer at the UNC was built for the institution by Life Solutions Integrales. Its print head extrudes a molten material containing the drug to be administered as well as binding agents mixed in with it. Two specific software programs are required to operate the printer, which were also produced by the same organization. The 3D printer can produce tablets or capsules which, unlike with conventional molding methods, can come in a variety of different shapes based on a 3D design. A number of different binding materials can also be used, mostly lipids and water-soluble polymers. The 3D drug printer at UNC is relatively unique in that users can freely combine different shapes of tablets as well as different materials. This allows much greater control over when and how the drug is released into the patient’s system.

According to Santiago Palma, Ph.D. in Chemistry, this increased control is a major step forward for pharmacology. Patients tend to be either overmedicated or undermedicated, due to the limits on dosages presented by traditional drug manufacturing techniques. The UNC will now be leading the way in changing this situation for the better. With the 3D printer already active after a number of different trials of shapes and materials, the next step is to improve the speed of production of drugs.

This project currently being carried out by UNC researchers is contributing to a key area of ​​national scientific and technological development in Argentina. 3D printing was earmarked as one of the main emerging technologies this decade, and is considered as a strategic topic within the framework of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation’s ‘’Innovative 2020 Argentina’’ Plan, which set the guidelines for the next few years.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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