3D Printing to Increase the Flexibility of the Chemical Synthesis of Biologically Active Molecules: Design of On-Demand Gas Generation Reactors

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Sep 14;22(18):9919. doi: 10.3390/ijms22189919.


The development of new drugs is accelerated by rapid access to functionalized and D-labeled molecules with improved activity and pharmacokinetic profiles. Diverse synthetic procedures often involve the usage of gaseous reagents, which can be a difficult task due to the requirement of a dedicated laboratory setup. Here, we developed a special reactor for the on-demand production of gases actively utilized in organic synthesis (C2H2, H2, C2D2, D2, and CO2) that completely eliminates the need for high-pressure equipment and allows for integrating gas generation into advanced laboratory practice. The reactor was developed by computer-aided design and manufactured using a conventional 3D printer with polypropylene and nylon filled with carbon fibers as materials. The implementation of the reactor was demonstrated in representative reactions with acetylene, such as atom-economic nucleophilic addition (conversions of 19-99%) and nickel-catalyzed S-functionalization (yields 74-99%). One of the most important advantages of the reactor is the ability to generate deuterated acetylene (C2D2) and deuterium gas (D2), which was used for highly significant, atom-economic and cost-efficient deuterium labeling of S,O-vinyl derivatives (yield 68-94%). Successful examples of their use in organic synthesis are provided to synthesize building blocks of heteroatom-functionalized and D-labeled biologically active organic molecules.

Keywords: 3D printing; acetylene; additive manufacturing; carbon dioxide; hydrogen; organic synthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Bioreactors*
  • Equipment Design
  • Gases / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Pressure
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*


  • Gases