Three-dimensional (3D) printing  means  the  process  which  involves  the  formation  of three-dimensional  solid  objects  from  a  computerized  or  digital files. This printing technology is an interesting and emerging technique which has a tremendous potential to bring a easy and accurate dosage form in pharmaceutical sector.  Basically,  layer-by-layer materials are being deposited to create a complex structures to control the release rate, or it can print pills on demand to make the dosage more accurate with various design of choice.

3D methods are commonly in use like laser-based writing systems, nozzle-based deposition systems, and printing based inkjet systems.

Drop on solid deposition is a printing process and its action mode  is  same to  the  DIP (desktop inkjet printers) and it  is also  called the  drop  on solid  or  powder bed  jetting. The  droplet ink sprayed from the print head binds to the layer of free powder particle, act  like  preventing  support  material  from  porous  structures  or collapsing  or  overhang.  After  each  step,  free  powder  layer  is applied  by  powder  jetting  system  or  roller  and  the  formed object  is lowered  and  further  process  is  carried  out.

A range of formulations has been produced, including those containing multiple active pharmaceutical  ingredients  (APIs),  with different release characteristics. This technology enables precise doses to  be  deposited  based  on  the  initial  ‘ink ’  concentration  and  the physical dimensions of the  formulation.

The drugs can be 3D printed in unique sizes, shapes and with slow-release capabilities in solid dosage form. 3D printing also allows for creation of the “multilayered drugs” in which a single drugs can contain multiple drugs layer that a patient is prescribed, reducing the number of drugs that need to be consumed.

The first FDA-approved prescription drug product manufactured using 3D printing technology is Spritam® (levetiracetam) by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals.