University College London 3d Printing

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University College London 3d Printing

University College London 3d Printing

3D printed animal-shaped tablets for children

23 June 2015

A team of researchers from the UCL School of Pharmacy has suggested that 3D printing can be used to fabricate tablets in any shape (such as animals), and so could potentially increase compliance for paediatric patients. The proposal was featured in The Daily Mail.

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It is well known that children are often not keen to swallow tablets. Now, however, a team of researchers at the School of Pharmacy (Professor Abdul Basit, Dr Simon Gaisford and Dr Steve Hilton) have suggested that 3D printing might provide a solution. “Because the printer can be used to fabricate objects of any shape, it is possible, in principle, to ask a child what his or her favourite animal is, and then print a tablet shaped like that animal especially for that child” says Dr Gaisford. “The printer software allows us to create shapes of equivalent volume, so we can print tablets of different shape but which contain the same dose” he continued. “If the printer were located in a hospital pharmacy, then the tablet could even be printed in sight of the patient”.

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The team has previously demonstrated how drugs can be incorporated into polymer filaments and printed into tablets with fused-filament 3D printing and the researchers hope that 3D printing will become a standard method for extemporaneous manufacture of tablets within the next decade. The work, led by Dr Goyanes and Dr Buanz, has stimulated much debate and was recently featured in The Daily Mail. A wider discussion of the potential of 3D printing for pharmaceutical manufacture was the lead article in a recent issue of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

Further information:Dr Simon Gaisford

Research project


3D printing technologies have the potential to become one of the key innovation drivers for the decades to come. These technologies have a potential to be highly disruptive, as they will give raise to entirely new products and services and will force to rethink creation, production and distribution processes. Furthermore, 3D printing technologies are expected to lower the barriers to entry and enable new companies, with innovative business models, to compete with established firms. We study how the potential of 3D printing can be unleashed for entrepreneurship and innovation purposes.


An increasing number of entrepreneurs use 3D printing to either start or grow their business. Similarly, SMEs start seeing the potential of 3D printing when competing with larger companies. The framework proposed by the authors help the participants of 3D printing sector to reshuffle their business models to better accommodate for the changes brought about by this technology.

Selected publications

Striukova, L., Rayna, T., & Darlington, J. (2015). Co-creation and User Innovation: The Role of Online 3D Printing Platforms. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. doi:10.1016/j.jengtecman.2015.07.002
Striukova, L., & Rayna, T. (2015). From Rapid Prototyping to Home Fabrication: How 3D Printing is Changing Business Model Innovation. Technological Forecasting & Social Change. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2015.07.023
Last updated Thursday, 11 August 2016
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