Pills & Thrills

3D Printing in Medicine: Making Pills Easier to Swallow

3d printing in medicine

Easy-to-swallow pills from Aprecia are the newest — and potentially the most practical — application for 3D printing in medicine.

3D Printing is changing, dissolving and completely reshaping the pharmaceutical industry. Not only can companies print pills and medications, they can create entirely new shapes and categories. But what happens when you have difficulty swallowing one of those incredible, new-fangled pills?

Enter ZipDose technology from Aprecia. These pills are built up, layer-by-layer, with the drug in powder form. These layers are held together with minuscule amounts of liquid, so the pill can be dissolved in an instant. The moment it comes in contact with water—poof. 


Based in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals first filed its 3D-printed product for approval to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2014. The company is now on the verge of bringing their system to market, printing large doses of drugs in a formulation that makes them easier to swallow. 

Aprecia’s senior director, Jennifer Zieverink, explains that this new technology is intended to help alleviate avoidance issues with drugs. ““We hope to ultimately improve adherence by alleviating medication avoidance issues related to hard-to-swallow or hard-to-administer dosage forms,” she says. Hopefully, as drugs become easier to administer, people will feel less tense about the process.

As we step bravely into the future of astounding new products, companies must also set their sights on higher quality control, rules, regulation and education. Printers must be highly knowledgeable about drugs and chemicals, as well as the printing process. Perfectly prepared printers, ingredients, and designs all add to the already complex world of pharmaceuticals.

The beauty of the Aprecia initiative is not simply that we can take pills more easily, but that pharmaceuticals can be improved in highly practical ways. 3D Printing is useful not only in highly dangerous cases, or in the creation of prosthetics, but in making the life of the average person easier. (via: 3D Printing Progress)