The highly advanced technology of 3D printing is revolutionizing and enhancing various industries and the medical industry is certainly not getting overlooked. Studies have confirmed the efficiency of 3D printing to produce dose-flexible drug formulations with narrow therapeutic indices. Let us consider the far reaching advantages of incorporating this technology in the world of pharmaceuticals.
1. Training in complicated surgeries
3D printing plays an extremely crucial role in terms of training medical students and preparing them as surgeons for real life experiences on complicated surgeries or operations.
Although in wide usage, 2D images offer very little visualization and not really represent an actual human organ or part with much accuracy. Whereas, 3D printing is known to offer models that look realistic and can represent real human body parts or organs, which eventually smoothens the training processes and with much more accuracy and effectiveness.
It is very important for the future doctors to practice on 3D printed organs which are closest representation of real human organs as compared to animal organs. Training on human-like 3D printed parts, increases the quality of skills among junior doctors during their training or the medical treatment of patients.
2. Providing medical benefits to critical or remote areas
The 3D printers allow producing much low-cost prosthetics for people in low income countries or war-torn countries or similar critical areas. They are an affordable and quick solution for people who cannot access high end expensive prosthetics within the required time, due to lack of proper roadways or proper options for the delivery of medical equipments. Hence 3D printing makes it easier to print the necessary equipments in such places without seeking any transportation issues.
3. Lowering costs of expensive procedures and long waiting time
3D printing allows us to 3D print medical and lab equipments. It is possible to 3D print plastic parts of numerous equipments; which drastically reduces costs and waiting period for receiving any new medical device via some specific suppliers.
It makes equipment more readily available and allows low-income or hard to access areas to get 3D printed medical equipment more easily.
Furthermore, the manufacturing processes and applications are also made seamless for any pharma manufacturing company.
Interestingly, 3D printing could be used as the perfect alternative solution for manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical industry, in cases of producing customised or personalised medicines in bulk.
From the economic point of view, it is likely that the conventional ways of producing high-volume and low-added value pharmaceuticasl tableting, encapsulation, etc; will remain cost efficient in most centralised facilities. However, there is value in 3D printing formulations that require personalisation to improve therapeutic outcomes.
Further, producing prosthetics in the traditional way becomes extremely expensive for the manufacturing companies, when there is a call for further customizations. 3D printers not only also allow prosthetics to be more widely available at much lower rates, but they also offer patients the scope to exercise their discretion while selecting from different designs, forms, sizes and colors of their prostheses. This makes every 3D printed piece a thoroughly personalized product.
If this was not enough, pharmaceutical formulations can be mass customised as per patient requirements using 3D printing at localised hubs, which has already gained much popularity in the healthcare industry; as several popular pharma manufacturers use this technology to produce personalised hearing aids in bulk, while each of the pieces get created as per the shape and size of the patient’s ear canal.
5. Contribution in pre-clinical trials
Till now, the 3D printed formulations by pharma tablet manufacturers in India, have been tested in a wide variety of pre-clinical animal models. As compared to laborious conventional manufacturing technologies, 3D printing could enable an earlier understanding of process and formulation variables, which in turn offer more rapid entry into first-in-human (FIH) clinical trials, reducing both time and cost of development.