3D Print Your Medical Edibles — A Few Questions For: Potent Rope


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Common hemp plant [Image: Gera-Untermhaus, FE Köhler via Wikipedia]

Cannabis is a loaded topic in many circles, particularly in the US, with medical marijuana currently legalized in 29 states and Washington, D.C.; 8 of those states also allow for recreational use. Legalization remains a big dispute, with many states continuing to fight argue for/against continued criminalization for usage and/or cultivation. Every so often, a pair of buzzwords come together to generate even more buzz, together creating some kind of immediately-famous baby from its high-profile parentage. While Blue Ivy has gotten plenty of press in the music/pop culture world, on this side of the internet we’ve recently been hearing about Potent Rope, born from the combination of medical marijuana — and 3D printing.

Potent Rope is a 3D printing filament that contains a measured dose of medical cannabis, fit for creating consumables. While medical marijuana has made its way into a number of consumable forms (I’ve heard gummy bears are a big hit), being able to form your own on demand may well be a first. (Cannabis benchy, anyone?) We’ve seen hemp filament before, as well as 3D printing used to help in dosing medical cannabis, and to help keep it protected from children, but actual 3D printable cannabis itself is, to the best of my knowledge, pretty novel.

Paige Colen

When I first heard about Potent Rope, I had a lot of questions; its existence wasn’t necessarily surprising, but how realistic is it? Can you actually 3D print a hairy lion that can help to manage pain? What’s the science behind it? There’s no one better to fill in the blanks than the team behind the introduction, so I turned to Paige Colen, Co-Founder and COO of Potent Rope, as I had A Few Questions For her.

Where did the idea for Potent Rope come from?

“My sister Ashley and I were developing a fashion-focused mobile application, the developer we were working with was doing a terrible job and could not produce what we were asking for, we ended up having to go to his offices to show him how serious and unhappy we were with his work. While we were there one of the administrative assistants showed us a bracelet she had just printed on their 3D printer—we were immediately intrigued by 3D printing—two months later we were sitting around a bonfire, I was visiting home from California and was talking with my sister about the medical cannabis delivery services in California, caregivers and dispensaries really make medicine so accessible for patients and there are so many strains available to choose from. I said to her, ‘I wish I could just email you the different strains.’ We looked at each other, held hands, and we both smiled and said ‘That’s something.’ The next day we really tried to figure out how we could email weed, then after a little more thinking the 3D printing aspect came about, it wasn’t ’emailing weed,’ but it was pretty damn close.”

Can you tell us about the team behind the creation; backgrounds, interests, where you first heard about 3D printing technology, why bring 3D printing and medical cannabis together, etc.?

“The team behind the creation of Potent Rope was Ashley and myself. We both have been in the cannabis industry for a while, Ashley and I both lived in California, among other places that have legal access. We work really well together as sisters, we always joke that if people only use 10% of their brain, together we use 20% because we always know what the other one is thinking. Ashley has always been very interested in botany and extraction of essential oils, and we both are very into leading healthy lifestyles with exercise and our diets. The science of Potent Rope, however, came from us doing a ton of research. We spent about a year researching and reading about pharmaceutical excipients, pills and capsules, even Twizzlers; really anything we could get our hands on. We found ourselves reading all sorts of scientific papers and patents, looking up ingredients of products and their physical and chemical characteristics, we looked up the words we didn’t understand, we watched documentaries about biodegradable plastics—now that I am thinking about it we sort of just gave ourselves a crash course in pharmaceuticals and plastics—the whole time constantly checking to make sure that no one else had patented it, which was absolutely nerve-wracking. MIT really has done a ton of work in 3D printing filament patenting! After about a year of doing that constantly, we got a friend to invest some R&D money. We had our suspicions about what ingredients we were going to need to make the filament, and once we were in a laboratory setting it really came down to trial and error and putting the knowledge we had gleaned to use—it took us about three attempts to get our base mixture down, which I guess we shouldn’t say was surprising, but we were quite pleased with how quickly we nailed it.

Our patent for the edible filament actually extends beyond just cannabis, we would like to start producing this edible filament with all sorts of other ingredients, but cannabis and 3D printing are the two fasted growing industries currently and we felt that going forward with something that we were passionate about was a great place to start. The other really important and amazing thing about Potent Rope is that it allows for precision dosage, which is something the cannabis industry really needs to address. You hear stories about people going to Colorado and eating a piece of a chocolate bar and nothing happens, and then the next piece they try from the same chocolate bar has them floored and they regret having tried it all together. Cannabis effects everyone differently, it’s a very personal plant, so titration is definitely something that needs to be explored. Potent Rope is all homogeneously mixed so you are getting a consistent amount of ‘active’ throughout the filament, eliminating the cause of misdosing for many people.”

What is your hope in taking Potent Rope to market?

“That everyone thinks it is amazing as we do! There is so much that can be done with Potent Rope we are excited to see where people take it and what they create. Cannabis really is such an incredible plant, but we would like to do more than cannabis; we think Soup Rope could put a dent in world hunger!”

How does the individualized formulation work to ensure consistency throughout an order of filament?

“We dry the cannabis extract and then homogenously mix it with the water-soluble thermo-plastic and other pharmaceutical-grade excipients, basically the water-soluble thermo-plastic binds itself to the cannabis extract and all the other ingredients, allowing it to be consistent”

What kind of plastic is included in the filament that is edible?

“It is a water-soluble thermo-plastic that is FDA approved, and is in so many things! The average person consumes about 44 pounds of it a year, it is in stuff like beer, wine, and teeth whitening strips. The name of the plastic is a trade secret though.”

How will Potent Rope packaged? Spools? How does this impact dosage?

“Potent Rope will be on a spool and packed with desiccants to keep away unwanted moisture that would cause the filament to breakdown. The dosages printed will be determined by the CAD designs we have developed to be used in conjunction with 3D printing software.”

What can a user 3D print using Potent Rope? Are designs adjustable/suggested by dosage of cannabis?

“We have not yet released our dosage designs to the public, but we do have different designs created for different dosage amounts. The designs are to be used in conjunction with the specified diameter filament, we will be offering both 3mm and 1.75mm filaments. The designs are adjustable with open-source software, which makes titration so easy to explore. We can’t wait to see what people create, perhaps they will find they are eager to dose themselves with a tiny poodle or Eiffel Tower!”

Is Potent Rope compatible with any desktop extrusion-based 3D printer?

Yes, Potent Rope is perfect for any standard consumer-driven 3D printer. Contamination can be an issue if the printer is used for other non-edible filaments, but the way manufacturing is going, home manufacturing will be meeting many needs around the household; it doesn’t seem out of the realm of probability that a household will have more than one 3D printer employed.”

What has the reaction been since you introduced the concept?

We have had a really great reception in both the cannabis and 3D printing industry, it tends to be a ‘nooo waaay’ kind of reaction from both groups. Which is also how we felt when we realized no one else had done it yet!”

What is the anticipated availability of your product? Price point?

“Potent Rope will be hitting the market this year in select states, although we welcome discussing licensing of Potent Rope with legal cannabis processors everywhere! The price point will depend on the cost of cannabis in any given location.”

Emailing a wrench to space was a crazy idea just a few years ago, but emailed 3D files have helped by now to create many viable products; why not personalized dosages of cannabis? You can learn more about patent-pending Potent Rope here.

[Images: Potent Rope]


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