Microneedle arrays have emerged as an alternative method for transdermal drug delivery. Although micromolding using a centrifugation method is widely used to prepare microneedles in laboratory, few researchers were focused on manufacturing processes capable of facile scale-up. A novel female mold was initially designed in this study, namely double-penetration female mold (DPFM) with the pinpoints covered by waterproof breather membrane which was beneficial to reduce the influence of gas resistance and solution viscosity. In addition, DPFM-based positive-pressure microperfusion technique (PPPT) was proposed for the scale-up fabrication of dissolving microneedle arrays (DMNA). In this method, polymer solution and base solution were poured into the DPFM by pressure difference, followed by drying and demolding. The results of optimal microscopy and SEM revealed that the obtained microneedles were uniformly distributed conical-shaped needles. The skin penetration test showed that DMNA prepared using PPPT were able to penetrate the rat skin with a high penetration rate. To realize the transition of microneedles fabrication from laboratory to industry, an automatic equipment was further designed in this study. Different from micromolding method using centrifugation, the equipment based on PPPT and DPFM has superiorities in the scale-up fabrication of microneedles in a highly effective, controllable, and scalable way.
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The authors appreciate financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81502994), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2016A030312013), and the Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Province (1608085QH179).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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