Coupling 3D printing with hot-melt extrusion to produce controlled-release tablets
The main objective of this work was to explore the potential of coupling fused deposition modeling in three-dimensional (3D) printing with hot-melt extrusion (HME) technology to facilitate additive manufacturing, in order to fabricate tablets with enhanced extended release properties. Acetaminophen was used as the model drug and different grades and ratios of polymers were used to formulate tablets. Three-point bending and hardness tests were performed to determine the mechanical properties of the filaments and tablets. 3D-printed tablets, directly compressed mill-extruded tablets, and tablets prepared from a physical mixture were evaluated for drug release rates using a USP-II dissolution apparatus. The surface and cross-sectional morphology of the 3D-printed tablets were assessed by scanning electron microscopy. Differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis were used to characterize the crystal states and thermal properties of materials, respectively. The 3D-printed tablets had smooth surfaces and tight structures; therefore, they showed better extended drug release rates than the directly compressed tablets did. Further, this study clearly demonstrated the feasibility of coupling HME with 3D printing technology, which allows for the formulation of drug delivery systems using different grades and ratios of pharmaceutical polymers. In addition, formulations can be made based on the personal needs of patients.