About Advantages & Disadvantages of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry, since the early 1980s, when 3D printing was first developed, this technology has been used to make nearly anything from food and snacks to vehicle parts to building materials.
The realm of medicine is one significant area where 3D printing technology has been used. Technology also offers advantages for doctors and pharmacists. As of right now, the pharmaceutical business is seeing an increase in demand for 3D printing.
What is 3D Printing in The Pharmaceutical Industry?
Let’s talk in more detail about What is 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry? and the Disadvantages of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry and its advantages for sure.
By building up consecutive layers of raw materials like metals, polymers, and ceramics, 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology that makes three-dimensional items as opposed to traditional techniques, which shape raw materials into a final form by cutting, grinding, or molding. The items are created from a digital file that is derived from an MRI or a computer-aided design (CAD) sketch, allowing the maker to quickly alter or modify the item as needed. The way the layers are applied and the materials that are utilized might vary amongst 3D printing techniques.
There are many types of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry on the market, from low-cost consumer versions that can print tiny, straightforward pieces to industrial-grade printers that can create much larger and more intricate products.
More than 100 3D-printed goods have been examined by the FDA role, the majority of which have been medical equipment, including orthopedic implants. A manufacturing strategy like this has various positive therapeutic effects. Manufacturers have employed 3D printing technology, for instance, to make knee replacements with porous structures that can support tissue development and integration and intricate geometries.
Based on a patient’s imaging data, these 3D-printed medical items are produced on demand. Patient-specific anatomical models, prosthetic limbs, and surgical guides—instruments that direct surgeons on where to make incisions during an operation—are amongst the medical equipment that may be printed right at the point of treatment. Just three hospitals in the United States had a centralized 3D printing facility in 2010, but by 2019 there were more than 100. This point-of-care paradigm may extend much more as technology develops.
Other Uses for 3D Printing Products:
Other uses for 3D printing products: There may be uses for 3D printing in other product categories as well. For instance, research is being done to produce drugs via 3D printing that may have novel dosage forms or formulations, such as those that might permit slower or quicker absorption.
One such 3D-printed medication, an epilepsy therapy designed to give a big dosage of the active component that may dissolve fast in the water, was authorized by the FDA in 2015. One day, tailored remedies that contain many medications in a single tablet, or “polypills,” may also be created via 3D printing.
The creation of cellular and tissue structures, such as skin grafts and organs, using bioprinters is another area of research, albeit these applications are still in the experimental stage.
Why are Manufacturers Using Additive Manufacturing?
Why are Manufacturers using additive manufacturing? Because manufacturers are increasingly using additive manufacturing, sometimes referred to as 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry. Due to some innovative advantages, it may offer, demand is increasing. It has limitations, much like practically other technologies, which should be taken into account.
The choosing process is intended to be assisted by this page. We will discuss all the benefits and disadvantages of 3D printing in pharmaceuticals.
Advantages of 3D Printing in The Pharmaceutical Industry
Comparing this manufacturing 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry technique to more conventional ones, it has a number of benefits. Time, financial, and design-related advantages are only a few of these Advantages of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry.
There are also disadvantages of 3D printing in pharmaceuticals, which we will mention later.
The Quick prototype phase is sped up by 3D printing’s ability to produce pieces in a few hours. This allows for quicker completion of each step.
In comparison to machine prototypes, 3D printing is less expensive and faster at producing components since the part may be done in a matter of hours. This enables each design modification to be finished much more rapidly.
With 3D printing, Versatile Design and more complex designs may be made and produced than with traditional production methods. Design restrictions that are inherent in more traditional techniques are no longer a concern when using 3D printing.
Durable and Lightweight Components
About Durable and Lightweight Components: Plastic is the primary material used in 3D printing, while various metals can also be utilized.
However, as plastics are lighter than their metal counterparts, they have benefits. This is essential in industries like automotive and aviation where weight loss is a priority and can lead to better fuel efficiency.
Additionally, pieces can be made from customized materials to offer certain qualities like heat resistance, increased strength, or water repellent.
Print on Demand
Another benefit of print-on-demand is that, unlike traditional production methods, it doesn’t require much room to store inventory. This saves money and space because there isn’t a need to print in large quantities until it is absolutely essential.
A 3D model is used to create the 3D design files, which can be discovered and printed as needed in a virtual library, as either a CAD or STL file. By altering individual files, changes to designs may be made for relatively little money without wasting outdated stock or spending money on equipment.
Quick Design and Manufacturing with 3D Printing in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Quick Design and Manufacturing with 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry: Compared to molded or machined components, 3D printing may produce an object in a matter of hours, depending on the part’s complexity and design. Through 3D printing, time may be saved not only during the part’s production but also during the design phase by producing STL or CAD files that are ready for printing.
It is Reducing Waste. When compared to other technologies, which use enormous chunks of non-recyclable materials, the manufacture of components uses only the resources required for the part itself, with little to no waste. The process not only reduces resource use but also lowers the cost of the materials used.
It is Easily Affordable. Because 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry is a one-step manufacturing method, it reduces the time and expense involved with employing some machinery for production. There is also no requirement for operators to be present at all times when using 3D printers; they may be set up and allowed to complete the task.
As was already said, this manufacturing method can also save material costs because it only uses the material needed for the item itself, with little to no waste. Potentially, while purchasing 3D printing equipment might be expensive, you can even eliminate this expense by outsourcing your project to a 3D printing service provider.
Modern Medical Care
By constructing human organs with 3D printing like livers, kidneys, and hearts, 3D printing is being used in the medical field to help Modern Medical Care and save lives. Some of the largest technological advancements are being made in the healthcare industry, where new uses and advancements are always being developed.
This procedure is by nature ecologically benign and environmentally Conscious since it decreases the quantity of material waste required.
When you take into account things like increased fuel economy from employing lightweight 3D printed parts, the environmental advantages are expanded.
3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry… Easily Accessible!
Easily Accessible! As more local service providers provide manufacturing outsourcing services, 3D printers are getting more and more affordable. Compared to more conventional manufacturing techniques carried out abroad in nations like China, this saves time and doesn’t necessitate high transit expenses.
Disadvantages of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry
What are the Disadvantages of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry? Although 3D printing technology provides numerous ground-breaking benefits for the pharmaceutical industry, it also has certain drawbacks. The significant downsides of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry are listed below.
3D Printer Efficiency and Safety
3D printer efficiency and safety. Traditional mass manufacture of medications is subject to the most stringent oversight possible from a recognized organization like the FDA. This assures consumers that the goods are made carefully.
However, in the case of 3D printing, authorized organizations like the FDA cannot control every printing procedure.
As a result, the product’s quality is questioned and doubted. Furthermore, with this technology, there is still a chance for faulty 3D printers and unneeded printing errors.
Limited Selection of Materials for 3D Printing in the Pharmaceutical Industry
A limited selection of materials for 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry. Even though fresh materials are frequently released, the selection of real, functional printing materials for 3D printing is rather small.
It so happens that some of these necessary materials can be obtained in a matter of months or somewhat longer; nevertheless, certain materials, like textiles, may be hard to obtain in time or may not even be able to be printed at all.
In these circumstances, producers must depend entirely or in part on conventional production techniques.
About Product Liability, It is true that a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm can license pharmacies and healthcare providers to print their designs locally by using 3D printing.
However, it is impossible for the pharmaceutical manufacturing business to precisely monitor the effectiveness of each 3D printing procedure. Additionally, they must take into account any potential product liabilities, which are a risk.
Because they provide the product blueprint, pharmaceutical corporations may inadvertently contribute to any unfavorable events or allegations of product defects. Other parties involved, such as the maker of the printer, the supplier of the materials, the developer of the software, the maker of the goods, etc., may also be accountable for this consequence.
Pharmaceutical businesses that are considering 3D printing create a procedure for approving their designs. They will guarantee their financial and legal protection in this way.
Not a green (Eco-Friendly) choice
It is not a green (Eco-Friendly) choice. The use of plastic and energy by 3D printing technology is highly extensive. Therefore, 3D printing can only be a small part of the solution if a medical device maker wants to reduce overall energy use or emissions.
In some ways, 3D printing is less wasteful than traditional manufacturing, since it only consumes the resources that go into the finished product and leaves no material waste in its wake. Additionally, the plastic used in 3D printing is frequently recyclable.
Having said that, the use of plastic and the substantial quantity of energy required do not represent environmentally favorable choices.
With the advent of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry, one of the main issues facing Indian makers of pharmaceutical tablets is the rise in the production of fraudulent medications. Hackers are now using a variety of 3D printers to make fake medications more quickly than with conventional manufacturing techniques.
For instance, a hacker with access to a drug’s design may mass-produce it elsewhere. This obviously hurts the pharmaceutical firm that owns the patents’ intellectual property.
Additionally, if the medicine is manufactured incorrectly, it might seriously injure or even kill the patients. If that weren’t bad enough, hackers can alter the medication’s dosages or components, which might have serious negative health effects.
Items Made Via 3D Printing Have a Lower Quality
Items made via 3D printing have a lower quality. Yes, there are times when 3D printers create flawless output, but there are also flaws.
When a surface should be smooth, 3D-printed objects might differ from each other in terms of their size and a certain amount of design noise like bumps or abnormalities.
It may be challenging or impossible to print 3D composite devices or devices that need specific, non-printable materials or components without some degree of flaw.
Before allowing patients to utilize the components, the noise, and abnormalities in such circumstances must be corrected independently.
Manufacturers are forced to incur substantial additional time and cost to correct design flaws that were introduced by a 3D printer and became imprinted on a bigger number of products.
How Does This Defect Affect 3D Printing?
About the answer How does this defect affect 3D printing? According to several experts in operations management, this disadvantage prevents 3D printing from becoming a common choice any time soon.
This issue is not particularly persistent, but it should be emphasized. The standards of 3D-printed products are anticipated to be improved over time by the new 3D printing technology.
The quality of 3D-printed items will rise unexpectedly with the introduction of novel methods and more familiarity with them, yet it is doubtful that they will be available to the public without some additional work and expense.
Types of 3D Printing in The Pharmaceutical Industry
The phrase “3D printing” refers to several types of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry and industrial processes that construct items layer by layer. Each has a unique manner of shaping plastic and metal components, as well as variations in material choice, surface quality, durability, production efficiency, and price.
There are several types of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry, such as:
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Digital Light Process (DLP)
- Masked Stereolithography (MSLA)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry method and relating those characteristics to your goals for product development are prerequisites for choosing the best method for your application. After looking at popular 3D printing technologies, and their advantages and disadvantages, let’s first talk about 3D printing types and product development cycle.
Stereolithography (SLA) is known for being the first 3D printing method ever developed. Chuck Hull developed stereolithography in 1986; he applied for a patent and established the business 3D Systems to market it.
Galvanometers or Galvos, which are mirrors, are used in an SLA printer, one on the X-axis and the other on the Y-axis. These Galvos quickly direct a laser beam over a resin vat, selectively curing and hardening a cross-section of the item inside this construction region, and layer by layer builds it up.
A solid-state laser is typically used by SLA printers to cure items.
When opposed to our next technique (DLP), which hardens a full layer at once, the drawback of these sorts of 3D printing technology employing a point laser is that it can take longer to trace the cross-section of an object.
Digital Light Process (DLP)
As a result of each layer being exposed simultaneously rather than a laser following the cross-section of a zone, 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry Digital Light Process (DLP) type prints more quickly than SLA. Infusion form-type polymer sculptures, adornments, dentistry applications, and amplifiers are typical uses for SLA and DLP. They feature smooth surface finishing and exquisite element peculiarities. Due to their limitations and weakness, they are inadequate for use as mechanical components.
Masked Stereolithography (MSLA)
Masked Stereolithography (MSLA): A single-layer slice is shown on an LCD screen as a mask in masked stereolithography, which employs an LED array as its light source to shine UV light through it.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Globally, the most widely used and reasonably priced 3D printing technique in the pharmaceutical industry is material extrusion equipment. They may be known to you as FDM, or fused deposition modeling. FFF, or fused filament fabrication, is another name for them.
Typically, a spool of filament is put into the extrusion head of the 3D printer and fed through to a printer nozzle.
When the printer nozzle reaches the required temperature, a motor pushes the heated filament through the nozzle, melting it.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective laser sintering (SLS) is the term used to describe the process of creating an item using powder bed fusion technology and polymer powder (SLS). These kinds of 3D printing in pharmaceutical industry technologies are spreading and getting cheaper as industry patents expire.
A bin of polymer powder is first heated to a temperature slightly below the melting point of the polymer. The powdered material is then applied in a very thin layer, usually 0.1 millimeters thick, to a build platform using a recoating blade or wiper.
The surface is then scanned using a CO2 or fiber laser. A cross-section of the item is solidified after the laser selectively sinters the powder. A pair of galvos concentrates the laser in the proper spot, similar to SLA.
3D Printing in The Pharmaceutical Industry: Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
In contrast to conventional powder bed fusion methods, electron beam melting (EBM) causes the fusing of the metal powder particles by using a high-intensity electron beam.
A tiny layer of powder is scanned by a concentrated electron beam, resulting in localized melting and solidification across a certain cross-sectional region. To produce a solid item, these zones are built up.
Challenges of Pharmaceutical 3D Printing
In terms of healthcare, they were initially applied in developing dental implants and personalized prostheses. Since then, technology has been heralded as the upcoming healthcare revolution.
Why, therefore, unlike medical computers, has it not become commonplace in clinics and hospitals? Here are 3 challenges of pharmaceutical 3D printing:
It’s Still in The Early Levels
It’s still in the early levels. To put it simply, conventional manufacturing involves molding, cutting, or grinding raw materials like steel or plastic into the desired output. Subtractive manufacturing is what this is. By building or adding those basic components layer by layer to generate the finished product, 3D printing is an example of additive manufacturing.
Risks May Be High With 3D Printing in The Pharmaceutical Industry
Risks may be high with 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs have a crucial role in patient treatment. They can assist a patient in obtaining a decent night’s sleep, regulating diabetes, and maintaining blood pressure. A hospital’s on-site 3D printer for pharmaceuticals can make it simple to produce medications for its patients as needed. Even better, they may be customized to the unique medical needs of each patient.
But what happens if the printer uses a little faulty raw material? Or, to provide better patient care, a well-intention staff member decides to blend the formulations of two or more medications. They might not become aware of any prescription issues until it is too late. And it’s not difficult to picture a situation in which a hacker hacks into the printer and modifies medication formulations on the Internet of Medical Things (IOMT).
Inadequate Regulation. Most nations have strict regulations on healthcare. It is overseen by the FDA in the US and the MHRA in the UK. It is necessary. There are too many hazards, both in terms of life and responsibility. This does not imply a blatant rejection of emerging technology like 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry. The FDA has also authorized medical devices such as orthopedic implants in addition to the two medications mentioned above.