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Written by Xiaoyan Xu

3D printing is an innovative technology that has been disrupting numerous industrial sectors by enabling rapid manufacturing of physical products in a layer-by-layer manner. Within healthcare, 3D printing is revolutionising the way medicines are prepared, offering small batches of personalised medications tailored to individual patient’s need. However, most 3D printers are relatively large in size and require professional knowledge to operate.

Nowadays, smartphones are inevitable for daily activities which have also emerged as an affordable platform for accessing healthcare. For example, lots of research has been going on to use the camera of the smartphone for diagnostic and monitoring purposes. Therefore, it could be advantageous to introduce a method for direct fabrication of personalised pharmaceuticals using one’s own smartphone.

In this proof-of-concept study, a smartphone-enabled 3D printer and a custom printing app were developed for the feasibility in preparing Printlets (3D printed tablets). The printer operates using the smartphone’s screen as the illumination source directly to create solid structures from photosensitive resin. Warfarin-loaded Printlets in various sizes and shapes were successfully prepared. This portable all-in-one 3D printer could potentially be integrated in electric health systems for point-of-care manufacturing of personalised medicines in the future.

Read our full research article here.