Three-dimensional (3-D) printing is essentially layered manufacturing. What varies from project to project, of course, is exactly what is being layered and why. Used in a variety of scientific and creative endeavors around the globe, the technology—developed in the 1980s—is not a new one. Of particular note, however, are the advancements professionals in the pharmaceutical and drug development industries continue to make using this technology that benefit researchers, consumers and patients.
The process of 3-D printing may seem like a difficult one, but it’s not as complicated as it sounds, explains David Prawel, Director of the Idea-2-Product 3D Printing Laboratory at Colorado State Univ., in an interview with Laboratory Equipment.
The printer head goes back and forth, like your typical office printer. The difference, however, lies in both the printing materials and the scientific possibilities. Layer by layer, 3-D printers build objects using everything from simple plastics to living cells. For many projects, CAD (computer aided design) software is employed to design and structure the end result.
What if you could print stem cells to build organs for pharmaceutical testing? What if you could use a 3-D printer to help determine the success of a particular cocktail of chemotherapy drugs on a patient before administering them, allowing you to give the patient only the medication that would work best given his/her anatomy? What if you could create a new type of pill that is easier to take and delivers results faster? What if you could build a new laboratory pipetting system that is specific to your work, thereby increasing your efficiency and allowing you to help more people with your discoveries? With 3-D printing, you can.
“In your mind, change the concept of print and generalize the concept of printing,” said Prawel. “Printing could be spraying, extruding or melting.” In any of those circumstances, layer-by-layer, you’re building something. Read more….