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3D Printing Opens New Prospects for Medicine

3D technology has remarkable potential and the possibility of its widespread domestic usage has the capacity to change the very way goods are designed and obtained.

How about creating your aspirin or antacid tablet right at home? This way, you can avoid the midnight trips to the pharmacy. The growing popularity of 3D printing may make this scenario a reality in the future.

3D printing is quite an old idea now. It is described as the process of making three-dimensional objects from a digital file. Accomplished using additive process, here an object is created by laying down multiple layers of material. It differs from the traditional process wherein the material is got rid of by drilling or cutting.


Medication Manufactured Using 3D printed Technology Gets Approval

A medicine manufactured using 3D printed technology got approval in August 2015. Spritam, made in a 3D printer, is manufactured depositing thin layers of powdered medication on a given surface. After depositing the layer of medication, the printer sprays it lightly with a liquid solution. This helps it to hold shape before the next layer is deposited. Spritam is a water soluble pill that prevents seizures in epilepsy patients.

Though this is the first pill to receive approval, the 3D printed pills have been in coming since quite some time and are a really promising step towards the creation of custom medication for the patients. Like the ink used in regular printers, the ink to be used in 3D printers is possible to be made of key pharmaceutical ingredients. Using the right ink, you can customise the texture, shape, stability and the solubility of the medicine to meet specific requirements of the patient.

Customised pills can open new avenues in the future. Instead of prescribing multiple medicines, the health care providers can create a pill combining all the prescribed medicines. This will help the patients living in isolated areas with little access to cutting edge treatments or medical facilities get treated. 3D printing also allows layers of medicine to be packaged tightly in the right dosage. With this, the health care providers need not follow the one-drug-fits-all approach but can make them custom ordered, based on patient needs.

A Glimpse of the Future

You may be questioned on your weight and get the percentage of body fat measured the next time you visit the pharmacy. This will help the medication to be printed according to your need.

It will be easier to make your kid take medicines with the personalised medication as you can choose the shape, design and the colour of the tablet. Your child will happily take pills if he finds it designed as his favourite superhero.

Potential Downsides

The access of this technology is expanding. Will it be safe to use 3D printed medication? What are the potential downsides? Can it lead to the proliferation of illegal drugs?

The vision behind 3D printed medication is that it will be customised for individuals to help it be safer as well as significantly more effective. Spritam used the 3D printed technology for the creation of a porous pill that is easy to swallow.

Since a drug has been approved, more drugs are likely to make its presence in the market. There are high chances of the pharmacists to tailor and print out personalised drugs by the next decade. Presently, the readymade drugs are possible to adapt and produced by 3D printed technology. This technology is acting like a proxy robot that mixes individual constituents like a cocktail maker.

The real challenge here is digitisation of chemistry so that you have a blueprint for the molecules and build drugs right from scratch. This blueprint can be encrypted to ensure that the drugs are made according to a validated blueprint. As it is the case with any new technology, anticipating and managing the downsides can be a race against time. Critics have raised concern about mislabelled blueprints and drugs filed under wrong description. Mistakes can be caused due to manual error as well.

There is also a concern about blueprint hacking. Though the encrypted codes are possible to hack, personalised medication will include an inbuilt validation system that allows drugs to be checked against known standards.

The 3D printed technology is up and running in several areas. It allows surgeons print artificial bones, architects print houses, fashion designers print odd dresses and food companies printing hamburger. The customised grafts and surgical implants are a crude adaptation of existing materials. The most exciting part of the innovation, the ability to create bespoke materials is yet to come.

Information by http://www.icreate3d.com/

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