Analysis of 3D prints by X-ray computed microtomography and terahertz pulsed imaging

Daniel Markl, J. Axel Zeitler, Cecilie Rasch, Maria Høtoft Michaelsen, Anette Müllertz, Jukka Rantanen, Thomas Rades, Johan Bøtker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: A 3D printer was used to realise compartmental dosage forms containing multiple active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) formulations. This work demonstrates the microstructural characterisation of 3D printed solid dosage forms using X-ray computed microtomography (XμCT) and terahertz pulsed imaging (TPI). Methods: Printing was performed with either polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or polylactic acid (PLA). The structures were examined by XμCT and TPI. Liquid self-nanoemulsifying drug delivery system (SNEDDS) formulations containing saquinavir and halofantrine were incorporated into the 3D printed compartmentalised structures and in vitro drug release determined. Results: A clear difference in terms of pore structure between PVA and PLA prints was observed by extracting the porosity (5.5% for PVA and 0.2% for PLA prints), pore length and pore volume from the XμCT data. The print resolution and accuracy was characterised by XμCT and TPI on the basis of the computer-aided design (CAD) models of the dosage form (compartmentalised PVA structures were 7.5 ± 0.75% larger than designed; n = 3). Conclusions: The 3D printer can reproduce specific structures very accurately, whereas the 3D prints can deviate from the designed model. The microstructural information extracted by XμCT and TPI will assist to gain a better understanding about the performance of 3D printed dosage forms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1037-1052
Number of pages16
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number5
Early online date21 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • 3D printing
  • microstructure
  • polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)
  • terahertz pulsed imaging (TPI)
  • X-ray computed microtomography (XμCT)


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