Three-dimensional printing in pharmaceutics: promises and problems

J Pharm Sci. 2008 Sep;97(9):3666-90. doi: 10.1002/jps.21284.


Three-dimensional printing (3DP) is a rapid prototyping (RP) technology. Prototyping involves constructing specific layers that uses powder processing and liquid binding materials. Reports in the literature have highlighted the many advantages of the 3DP system over other processes in enhancing pharmaceutical applications, these include new methods in design, development, manufacture, and commercialization of various types of solid dosage forms. For example, 3DP technology is flexible in that it can be used in applications linked to linear drug delivery systems (DDS), colon-targeted DDS, oral fast disintegrating DDS, floating DDS, time controlled, and pulse release DDS as well as dosage form with multiphase release properties and implantable DDS. In addition 3DP can also provide solutions for resolving difficulties relating to the delivery of poorly water-soluble drugs, peptides and proteins, preparation of DDS for high toxic and potent drugs and controlled-release of multidrugs in a single dosage forms. Due to its flexible and highly reproducible manufacturing process, 3DP has some advantages over conventional compressing and other RP technologies in fabricating solid DDS. This enables 3DP to be further developed for use in pharmaceutics applications. However, there are some problems that limit the further applications of the system, such as the selections of suitable excipients and the pharmacotechnical properties of 3DP products. Further developments are therefore needed to overcome these issues where 3DP systems can be successfully combined with conventional pharmaceutics. Here we present an overview and the potential 3DP in the development of new drug delivery systems.

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Drug Design
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations