Emergence of 3D Printed Dosage Forms: Opportunities and Challenges

Mohamed A Alhnan, Tochukwu C Okwuosa, Muzna Sadia, Ka-Wai Wan, Waqar Ahmed, Basel Arafat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The recent introduction of the first FDA approved 3D-printed drug has fuelled interest in 3D printing technology, which is set to revolutionize healthcare. Since its initial use, this rapid prototyping (RP) technology has evolved to such an extent that it is currently being used in a wide range of applications including in tissue engineering, dentistry, construction, automotive and aerospace. However, in the pharmaceutical industry this technology is still in its infancy and its potential yet to be fully explored. This paper presents various 3D printing technologies such as stereolithographic, powder based, selective laser sintering, fused deposition modelling and semi-solid extrusion 3D printing. It also provides a comprehensive review of previous attempts at using 3D printing technologies on the manufacturing dosage forms with a particular focus on oral tablets. Their advantages particularly with adaptability in the pharmaceutical field have been highlighted, which enables the preparation of dosage forms with complex designs and geometries, multiple actives and tailored release profiles. An insight into the technical challenges facing the different 3D printing technologies such as the formulation and processing parameters is provided. Light is also shed on the different regulatory challenges that need to be overcome for 3D printing to fulfil its real potential in the pharmaceutical industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-32
Number of pages16
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Compounding/methods
  • Humans
  • Precision Medicine/trends
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional/trends
  • Tablets
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical/methods


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