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Pharm Res. 2018 May 31;35(8):151. doi: 10.1007/s11095-018-2432-3.

Development of a Simple Mechanical Screening Method for Predicting the Feedability of a Pharmaceutical FDM 3D Printing Filament.

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School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, UK.
Norwich Research Park, Quadram Institute Bioscience, Colney Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7UA, UK.
Department of Pharmaceutics, College of Pharmacy, University of Basrah, Basrah, Iraq.
School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, UK.
School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, UK.



The filament-based feeding mechanism employed by the majority of fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printers dictates that the materials must have very specific mechanical characteristics. Without a suitable mechanical profile, the filament can cause blockages in the printer. The purpose of this study was to develop a method to screen the mechanical properties of pharmaceutically-relevant, hot-melt extruded filaments to predetermine their suitability for FDM.


A texture analyzer was used to simulate the forces a filament is subjected to inside the printer. The texture analyzer produced a force-distance curve referred to as the flexibility profile. Principal Component Analysis and Correlation Analysis statistical methods were then used to compare the flexibility profiles of commercial filaments to in-house made filaments.


Principal component analysis showed clearly separated clustering of filaments that suffer from mechanical defects versus filaments which are suitable for printing. Correlation scores likewise showed significantly greater values with feedable filaments than their mechanically deficient counterparts.


The screening method developed in this study showed, with statistical significance and reproducibility, the ability to predetermine the feedability of extruded filaments into an FDM printer.


feedability screening; fused deposition modeling 3D printing; hot melt extrusion; plasticization; printability; solid dispersions

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