Sep 29, 2014 | By Alec

Lately we've been seeing more and more medical applications of 3D printing appearing, many of which are revolutionary prosthetics or implants that are changing people's lives throughout the world. But now the Israeli start-up company Syge Medical Ltd has come up with a particularly inventive way to incorporate 3D printing in the medical field. It might not save lives, but it sure helps a lot of people: two pocket-sized, medical marijuana inhalers, one for use in hospital settings, and one that can simply be used at home. And both have been constructed using 3D printing technology.

Syge Medical – which hosts a wide team of mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as physicians, pharmacologists, chemists and biologists – has been working on this product for the past four years, partly thanks to backing from the Israeli government. Their goal has always been to 'transform cannabis and other psychoactive botanicals into mainstream medical drugs.'

And it looks like they are going to be successful. For up to now – like it or hate it – marijuana, even the medical version of it, has been very controversial. Whatever you look at it, the non-medical version is simply a recreational drug (regardless of its supposed benefits or dangers), and this stigma has been largely transferred to the medical version as well.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, one of the reasons medical marijuana has been branded with controversy is doctors have so remained unable to properly dose it, leaving patients to rely on experimenting with joints, vaporizers or edible versions of the stuff until they find an amount and a method that grants them the full medical effects without getting absolutely high every day.

This 3D printed inhaler aims to change all that. These inhalers – that come with easily used software, will enable doctors to carefully administer (and alter) a dose of medical marijuana. This will allow the patient to walk to fine line between the health benefits and the 'size effect' of becoming stoned, which will do much to boost marijuana's reputation as a useable medical substance.

The initial dosage can first be set at one milligram, giving both patients and doctors the ability to assess the medicinal benefits without lighting up a whole joint. As Perry Davidson, the CEO of Syqe Medical CEO, explained to Jewish newspaper Shalom Life: 'A physician could prescribe a custom-tailored, individualized treatment for [a] patient, and not have a hit or a miss, but a very close hit on the accurate dosing that the patient required.'

Efficiency (ng/ml per mg)

And 3D printing proved to be an excellent, accessible and useful technology to develop these medical inhalers. Because of the controversy attached to marijuana, the team behind Syge found themselves having to construct many of their own tools and components, rather than working with other companies:

Since metered dose inhalation of raw botanicals is a highly unconventional undertaking, we had to develop the tooling and machines for many of our processes. More than half of our production equipment, jigs and analytical tools were printed in house.

This did, however, illustrate of the greatest advantages of 3D printing, as it greatly shortened production times.

The journalists over at Forbes estimated that about 75 percent of the inhalers were made using a number Stratasys industrial 3D printers (Objet30 Pro, Connex3, Objet Eden260v and Replicator 2), though a variety of different materials were used to make the different components that make up the printer. These include digital ABS, MED610 and PLA. According to Davidson, this patchwork of materials allowed them to achieve the necessary 'rigidity, clarity, biocompatilibity and heat resistance'.

Both of these Stratasys creations are scheduled to be released in late 2014 to early 2015. And while some users might lament the loss of this particular 'side effect', no one will deny that marijuana and all of its users are set to benefit from a more positive medical reputation.

Check out this introductory video on the Syge inhalers:


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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