3D Printing has been making its way into medicine, in more ways than one. We have seen it come to the aid of surgeons who use the technology to print out replicas of organs, bones, and other body tissue, prior to performing live surgery. These replicas allow the surgeons to practice prior to performing a risky surgery on their living subjects. We have also seen 3D bioprinting begin to inch its way into use, with the printing of live cells, which one day may evolve into the 3D printing of fully functioning organs. 3D printing has also been used to create hundreds of prosthetic arms, legs, hands, and facial features. Without a doubt, this growing trend will only continue.
Back in June, we reported on a company called J Group Robotics, who had launched the first Indian manufactured 3D printer, the Vector PLA 3D. It is a 3D printer that is very similar to other FDM based printers on the market today, but is made in India, and has thus far been quite a hit within the country.
“Our printers are used by the Indian Navy, and we are also in discussion with the Indian Airforce and BARC.,” Vishal R. Jariwala, Founder & Chairman of J Group Robotics, informed 3DPrint.com
J Group Robotics isn’t satisfied with only being India’s premier 3D printing manufacturer though. They want to do more. They want to create processes which have not yet been seen. One of these projects that they are currently working on, is that of creating a specialized filament and process for the printing of medical pill capsules.
Last year, Reason.com did an article about the future of 3D printing drugs. The article discussed taking different chemical compounds, and through the use of 3D printers, in the future, printing specific drugs on demand. J Group Robotics, has seen this idea, and now plans on taking it one step further.
“We propose the use of 3D printers to produce capsule covers which shall carry “chemical ink” (or chemical catalysts), after printed,” said Jariwala. “In the future, companies could develop the chemical formula for a particular drugs and could outsource the 3D printing of the drug to local medical stores.”
J Group Robotics has formulated a special type of PLA filament that is able to print these capsules, which could then be ingested by humans. “We have to use specialized material, which will be commercially available after a couple of months,” Jariwala told us. “We shall also release the material properties and ensure it is as per the FDA approval.”
The company is also researching ways in which they can fill these capsules with a liquid or powder medicine during or after their 3D fabrication. A 3D printer that could do all of this would certainly revolutionize modern medicine, as well as drastically reduce the price and availability of these medications to poverty stricken nations.
“Such futuristic applications in 3D printing technology has the potential to revolutionize the medical industry,” J Group told us. “Not only would printable medicine allow for customizable medical treatments, such that patients could print out doses and compounds specifically tailored for their genome, but, by making chemical formulas available for download by any hospital across the globe, much needed medicine could be brought to remote areas of the world. At the same time, the ability to 3D print chemical compounds anywhere and everywhere would, clearly, have a significant effect on the ability to control controlled substances, medical or otherwise.”
J Group Robotics not only envisions this new technology improving access to drugs in third world countries, but also outlines the following 6-stage process which could be used all over the world to make ordering prescription drugs much easier and affordable.
- Take your prescription to the drug store.
- Use the prescription to find the needed drug.
- Add that drug to your cart
- The drug will be packaged in a pre-sealed safe cartridge.
- The drug capsule is printed with a special filament and software.
- The drug is filled and sealed, then ready to be purchased.
This process could be done using a fail-safe software that would be able to double check and make sure the drug dosage and contents are correct. It could prevent human error and allow for a quicker, more affordable process. Without a doubt, this technology could go a long way. It should be interesting to see how this progresses in the coming months as J Group Robotics releases more details on this new 3D printing process.
What do you think? Will the 3D printing of medicines be something that we see more and more of anytime soon? Discuss in the 3D Printed Medicine forum thread on 3DPB.com
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