Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technique based on the deposition of successive layers of thermoplastic materials following their softening/melting. Such a technique holds huge potential for the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and is currently under extensive investigation. Challenges in this field are mainly related to the paucity of adequate filaments composed of pharmaceutical grade materials, which are needed for feeding the FDM equipment. Accordingly, a number of polymers of common use in pharmaceutical formulation were evaluated as starting materials for fabrication via hot melt extrusion of filaments suitable for FDM processes. By using a twin-screw extruder, filaments based on insoluble (ethylcellulose, Eudragit(®) RL), promptly soluble (polyethylene oxide, Kollicoat(®) IR), enteric soluble (Eudragit(®) L, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose acetate succinate) and swellable/erodible (hydrophilic cellulose derivatives, polyvinyl alcohol, Soluplus(®)) polymers were successfully produced, and the possibility of employing them for printing 600μm thick disks was demonstrated. The behavior of disks as barriers when in contact with aqueous fluids was shown consistent with the functional application of the relevant polymeric components. The produced filaments were thus considered potentially suitable for printing capsules and coating layers for immediate or modified release, and, when loaded with active ingredients, any type of dosage forms.
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