Track-and-trace: Novel anti-counterfeit measures for 3D printed personalized drug products using smart material inks

Sarah J. Trenfield, Hui Xian Tan, Atheer Awad, Asma Buanz, Simon Gaisford, Abdul W. Basit, Alvaro Goyanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Printing technologies have been forecast to initiate a new era of personalised medicine in pharmaceuticals. To facilitate integration, a non-destructive and robust method of product authenticity is required. This study reports, for the first time, the interface between 3D printing and 2D inkjet printing technologies in order to fabricate a drug-loaded 3D printed tablet (printlet) with a unique track-and-trace measure in a single step process. In particular, quick response (QR) codes and data matrices were printed onto the surface of polymeric-based printlets for scanning using a smartphone device, and were designed to encode tailored information pertaining to the drug product, patient and prescriber. Moreover, a novel anti-counterfeit strategy was designed, which involved the deposition of a unique combination of material inks for detection using Raman spectroscopy. The inks were characterised for printability by measuring surface tension, viscosity and density, and each was successfully detected on the 3D printed tablet post-printing. Overall, this novel approach will enable an enhanced transparency and tracking of 3D printed medicines across the supply chain, leading to a safer treatment pathway for patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118443
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • 3D printed drug products
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Falsified medicines
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
  • Ink-jet printing
  • Three-dimensional printing


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