Direct granule feeding of thermal droplet deposition 3D printing of porous pharmaceutical solid dosage forms free of plasticisers

Thomas McDonagh, Peter Belton, Sheng Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: To develop a new direct granule fed 3D printing method for manufacturing pharmaceutical solid dosage forms with porous structures using a thermal droplet deposition technology.

Methods: Eudragit® E PO was used as the model polymer, which is well-known to be not FDM printable without additives. Wet granulation was used to produce drug loaded granules as the feedstock. The flow and feedability of the granules were evaluated. The physicochemical properties and in vitro drug release performance of the granules and the printed tablets were fully characterised.

Results: Using the method developed by this study, Eudragit E PO was printed with a model drug into tablets with infills ranging from 30–100%, without additives. The drug was confirmed to be molecularly dispersed in the printed tablets. The printing quality and performances of the porous tablets were confirmed to be highly compliant with the pharmacopeia requirement. The level of infill density of the porous tablets had a significant effect on their in vitro drug release performance.

Conclusion: This is the first report of thermal droplet deposition printing via direct granule feeding. The results of this study demonstrated that this new printing method can be used as a potentially valuable alternative for decentralised pharmaceutical solid dosage form manufacturing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599–610
Number of pages12
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number3
Early online date22 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF)
  • Fused deposition modelling (FDM)
  • Porous solids
  • Solid dosage forms
  • Thermal droplet deposition 3D printing

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