Formulators within the Pharmaceutical industry are often struggling to achieve sufficient systemic exposure of the drug which is meant to evoke a specific therapeutic effect. 3D printing offers the opportunity to manufacture small batches of tablets with specific release characteristics with maximum systemic exposure. TNO endeavors the field of 3D printing of oral dosage forms addressing bio-availability issues and personalized medicine.

3D printing is an innovative manufacturing process whereby an object is built up layer by layer from a 3D computer design. A variety of printing technologies can be used. 3D printed oral dosage forms (ODFs) have shown added value in the field of patient compliance especially within different age groups like children and elderly. 3D printing of ODFs has the potential to manufacture tablets for the individual patient at the right time and place offering point of care solutions in a personalized medicine setting.

Over the last couple of years TNO has been investigating printing technologies for their applicability in new areas and as a result TNO has become world leading in the area of 3D food printing. The success in 3D printing complete food products from a wide range of base ingredients and the realisation that many of these ingredients are identical to, or share great similarities with, pharmaceutical ingredients (excipients) has lead to an expansion of TNO’s activities to the area of pharma. As all main 3D printing technologies (FDM, SLS, PBP, IJP, SLA) are available within TNO, a wide range of printing research is possible.

3D Printing of oral dosage forms (ODFs) offers enormous freedom of design with respect to factors such as API dosage, API distribution within an ODF, excipient use and distribution, as well as tablet structure and shape. 3D printing can be used to create unique new products that other methods cannot emulate. The potential uses of the technology are many:

  • Easy fabrication of ODFs with varying dosages.
  • Fabrication of ODFs with specific, designed release profiles.
  • Easy fabrication of ODFs containing multiple APIs.
  • Fabrication of ODFs with designed internal structure (e.g. micro-channels).
  • Fabrication of unique ODF shapes (marketing, anti-counterfeiting).

Within TNO we can also investigate the behaviour of 3D printed ODFs via internally developed in vitro platforms like InTESTine. The intestinal permeability at different sites of the GI tract (duodenum, jejunum, ileum and even colon) will be determined via intestinal segments. These ex-vivo experiments represent the human gut physiology and has shown to be very predictive investigating the oral bio-availability in humans.

Would you like to know more about the 3D printing of oral dosage forms and techniques predicting oral BA in humans please contact us.


Steven Erpelinck BSc. MBA

  • bioavailability
  • microdosing
  • AMS transporters
  • permeability
  • PBPK modeling