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Fabricating a Shell-Core Delayed Release Tablet Using Dual FDM 3D Printing for Patient-Centred Therapy



Individualizing gastric-resistant tablets is associated with major challenges for clinical staff in hospitals and healthcare centres. This work aims to fabricate gastric-resistant 3D printed tablets using dual FDM 3D printing.


The gastric-resistant tablets were engineered by employing a range of shell-core designs using polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and methacrylic acid co-polymer for core and shell structures respectively. Filaments for both core and shell were compounded using a twin-screw hot-melt extruder (HME). CAD software was utilized to design a capsule-shaped core with a complementary shell of increasing thicknesses (0.17, 0.35, 0.52, 0.70 or 0.87 mm). The physical form of the drug and its integrity following an FDM 3D printing were assessed using x-ray powder diffractometry (XRPD), thermal analysis and HPLC.


A shell thickness ≥0.52 mm was deemed necessary in order to achieve sufficient core protection in the acid medium. The technology proved viable for incorporating different drug candidates; theophylline, budesonide and diclofenac sodium. XRPD indicated the presence of theophylline crystals whilst budesonide and diclofenac sodium remained amorphous in the PVP matrix of the filaments and 3D printed tablets. Fabricated tablets demonstrated gastric resistant properties and a pH responsive drug release pattern in both phosphate and bicarbonate buffers.


Despite its relatively limited resolution, FDM 3D printing proved to be a suitable platform for a single-process fabrication of delayed release tablets. This work reveals the potential of dual FDM 3D printing as a unique platform for personalising delayed release tablets to suit an individual patient’s needs.

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Active pharmaceutical ingredient


Computer aided design


Differential scanning calorimetry


Fused Deposition Modelling


Hot melt extrusion


High performance liquid chromatography


Modulated temperature differential scanning calorimetry


Polyethylene glycol




Scanning electron microscopy


Tribasic sodium phosphate


Triethyl citrate


Glass transition temperature


Thermal gravimetric analysis


Melting point


X-ray powder diffractometry


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The authors would like to thank UCLAN Innovation Team for their support and Mrs Rim Arafat for her help with graphics design.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mohamed A. Alhnan.

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Okwuosa, T.C., Pereira, B.C., Arafat, B. et al. Fabricating a Shell-Core Delayed Release Tablet Using Dual FDM 3D Printing for Patient-Centred Therapy. Pharm Res 34, 427–437 (2017).

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  • additive manufacturing
  • delayed release
  • gastric resistant
  • modified-release
  • patient-specific
  • personalised