For those just catching a glimpse into 3D printing, it may seem like a conglomeration worldwide of outrageous innovations—some which could possibly offer benefit—and others which seem incredible but are one-offs for someone’s design portfolio, and wonderful for singular headlines. Underneath all that pizzazz and publicity, however, are some very important contributions that will mean a lot to people around the world in the future, and many that already do.
In the medical world (and this translates to other sectors as well), what is key is that patient-specific care can be offered, and with products and techniques that also far improve upon what we know traditionally. So many factors come together with 3D printing, offering the motherload of benefits, from customization to unprecedented affordability. And Multiply Labs is showing you exactly what they mean with their 3D printed pill that will offer those interested in supplements a whole new boost.
Certainly not the first to run with this concept lately, the most famous in the 3D printed medication arena is that of the FDA-approved Spritam, for treating epilepsy. The medication was approved for commercial use and made available earlier this year, paving the way for others. This latest, coming from Multiply Labs, is the result of patent-pending release technology that was created at both MIT and the University of Milan.
The goal? Multiply Labs wants to transform the general public’s thinking regarding supplements—and how they take them. Their product is the first personalized supplement on the market. Not only that, the capsules are 3D printed with FDA-approved pharmaceutical polymers, and then filled by a robotic system. Each capsule is half an inch long, and it can combine multiple traditional pills within. It contains only pure elements, and no additives. This is in many ways what we’ve been waiting for, as it is capable of multiple release times—and there are a multitude of combinations that can be set.
“We can control the release timing of the supplements via the material we use and the thickness of the capsule shell,” states the company.
The project and resulting product have all been outlined in an award-winning paper, ‘3D printing by fused deposition modeling of capsular devices for oral pulsatile release based on swellable/erodible polymers,’ by A. Melocchi, F. Parietti, F. Casati, A. Maroni, A. Gazzaniga, and L. Zema. There, they outline their goals and procedures as they began prototyping with a MakerBot Replicator 2.
First, the team began by preparing HPC-based filaments. Once they had a suitable design, they were able to 3D print the oral pulsatile release capsular devices.
“CAD files for 3D printing the bodies and caps of the capsule shells were created,” stated the research team. “The size of the gap between cap and body was defined to enable their efficient matching and the locking of the resulting capsule shell.”
“By defining a suitable printing temperature (i.e. 180 °C), HPC bodies and caps were obtained with 5 min printing time each.”
No support materials were used as they worked toward their final prototype, the research team pointed out, and rafts were employed with easy removal in mind. They found that the filaments they produced were indeed suitable for FDM 3D printing and could be exploited for fabricating ‘swellable/erodible capsular devices with the desired pulsatile release performance.’
Another paper was also released in regards to the materials they used: ‘Hot-melt extruded filaments based on pharmaceutical grade polymers for 3D printing by fused deposition modeling,’ by Alice Melocchi, Federico Parietti, Alessandra Maroni, Anastasia Foppoli, Andrea Gazzaniga, and Lucia Zema. There they explained that 3D printing indeed holds ‘huge potential’ for the area of 3D printed medications and supplements.
“Accordingly, a number of polymers of common use in pharmaceutical formulation were evaluated as starting materials for fabrication via hot melt extrusion of filaments suitable for FDM processes,” stated the researchers in their paper.
According to the team, they used a twin-screw extruder, filaments based on insoluble (ethylcellulose, Eudragit RL), promptly soluble (polyethylene oxide, Kollicoat IR), enteric soluble (Eudragit L, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose acetate succinate) and swellable/erodible (hydrophilic cellulose derivatives, polyvinyl alcohol, Soluplus) polymers. These were made successfully and then the team went on to use them to print 600 μm thick disks.
“The produced filaments were thus considered potentially suitable for printing capsules and coating layers for immediate or modified release, and, when loaded with active ingredients, any type of dosage forms,” stated the researchers.
In this context, the company means for their futuristic and innovative new product to be used for supplements increasing energy, allowing for a healthier lifestyle, and even improved performance in training and exercise. Users are advised to take a pill in the morning, and then supplements are released throughout the day.
“For example, your pill could release vitamins right away and caffeine later in the day for an energy boost,” states Multiply Labs.
The company uses the following in their supplements.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Folic Acid
- Omega 3
What’s really amazing here is that Multiply Labs allows you to design your own pills by specifying the supplements and quantities you desire. The supplements are available now for pre-order, and the first 500 customers will be eligible for their Early Access program, guaranteeing first rights for delivery. Multiply Labs will also be offering a beta testing program. For pre-order, enjoy 25% off retail price at $19 for your first two-week shipment of 15, with the first supplements shipping out by May 2017. Those enrolled in Early Access should look forward to receiving them one month earlier. See the Multiply Labs FAQs if you are interested in more information on pre-ordering, and other details regarding the supplements themselves. Is this a supplement that would benefit you over traditional ones? Discuss in the 3D Printed Supplement forum at 3DPB.com.