Case study showcases the benefits 3D printing can bring to pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals
Craft Health in Singapore, one of ViscoTec Asia’s customers, is using the vipro-Head 5 print head for 3D printing of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Craft Health is a healthcare research and development company committed to 3D-printed personalised healthcare. When the firm was looking for an accurate and precise print head for the manufacturing of personalised tablets, it came across ViscoTec. The solution it required had to comply with any regulatory requirement for manufacturing of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.
The vipro-Head printhead convinced with its technology. With the endless-piston principle it is possible to achieve accurate and precise dosing of craft blends – a proprietary mixture of different GRAS excipients for 3D printing and various controlled release profiles.
Other advantages are the stepper motor version in the print head, that allows easy integration to already existing gantry systems for 3D printing. Also, the wetted and non-wetted surfaces could be clearly separated and cleaned accordingly. To meet the requirements of the customer the wetted surfaces of the print head were customised and refabricated using SS316L material to comply with FDA regulations.
Dr Seng Han LIM (Ph.D.), is co-founder & COO of Craft Health. Detailing this special application, Lim says: “Our craft blends must be printed in the desired volume or geometry. This is based on individual requirements of the active ingredient. We are using multiple print heads, and so the blends containing different active ingredients can also be combined onto a single tablet, depending on individual requirements. Different craft blends can also be employed to control the rate of release of active ingredients into the body. Hence, a unique and personalised tablet can be 3D printed for the individual, considering the combination, type, dose, and release profile of active ingredients required. The end product is a personalised tablet for the individual.”
Asked about the challenges with such an application, Lim comments that, “The precision and accuracy of dosing during 3D printing is the main challenge due to the compressive nature of paste or semi-solids being used. With controlled extrusion and retraction function, the viproHead 5 allows precise and accurate dosing of the material being 3D printed, allowing the final product to be of high uniformity. Reusability of the print head is also difficult if the wetted surfaces are hard to clean or consist of materials that are reactive, absorptive, or additive. The limits of printing according to our experience in the past were the accuracy and the precision of dosing.”
Lim adds that, “ViscoTec was totally open to the modification of the wetted surface materials of the print head to an FDA compliant SS316L material. And the endless piston technology allows us to achieve exactly the accurate and precise dosing of the printing material we were searching for. ViscoTec made it possible for us to get a print head that can comply with FDA requirements of being non-reactive, non-absorptive and non-additive on the one hand. And on the other hand, we received an accurate and precise print head for 3D printing of personalised tablets.”