What do pharmaceuticals, food manufacturing, and retail goods have in common? Well, with the latest evolution in technology, these fields will be connected by the newest way to manufacture; 3D printing. In the past few years alone, scientists have discovered ways to “print” a functioning human ear out of cartilage, and how to “print” retail goods at the point of purchase. 3D printing works by scanning or drafting the desired object and contents of the object, then synchronizing with the printer to “print” or build a 3-dimensional object, usually in minutes. Currently there are 3D printers on the market for home use, but both the pharmaceutical industry and retail manufacturers are opening their minds to the possibilities that 3D printing holds.
3D printing can change the way scientists practice chemistry, as well as the speed and cost at which personalized pharma is produced. The ability to “print” or produce pharmaceuticals at the location they are needed opens doors to new ways of reducing expensive distribution costs as well as waiting time for the pharmacy and patient. 3D printing can also impact the lives of those who lack access to pharmacies by having the ability to “print” the desired drug at any location. The idea of producing such a small quantity of drugs, paves the way for more personalized medicines and drugs.
As of March 2016, the first 3D printed drug received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The 3D printed drug, Spritam, was created by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals and is available in tablet-form to treat epilepsy. Although efficiency is not increased through 3D printing the drug, the tablet is now more easily dissolvable due to the 3D printing process. Aprecia is currently working on at least 3 more 3D printed drugs and is hoping to get them into the market as well.
There is a growing demand for personally tailored drugs. With this new technology companies can more easily adapt business strategies to address that. In addition to printing medicines and drugs, 3D printers are in the beginning stages for printing human organs and bone replacements. It may be many years before this can be done regularly in practice, but if it proves to be successful, it will revolutionize surgery and organ replacement. Some leaders in the race to be the first to successfully transplant a 3D printed organ include Organovo and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. As of early 2016, Wake Forest successfully transplanted 3D printed ear, bones, and muscle structures into animals.
Food and Retail Manufacturing
Not only are pharmaceutical companies finding the benefits of 3D printing, but so are retailers and food manufacturers. While 3D printing may not be the answer for producing in economies of scale, it may be the answer for replicating specialty retail products. For instance, instead of creating a variety of sizes and colors for a particular shoe, the shoe store can “print” the shoe at the point of sale and time of sale. Food manufacturers are also finding 3D printing useful. The method used by the printer to layer the material makes it possible to create millions of shapes that could never be created before with food. Currently, scientists are looking into the use of 3D printing to create food for astronauts while they are in space. Each industry inspires other industries to explore the possibilities of this exciting technology.
At EquipNet we like to stay updated about the latest technologies to understand the trends that our clients and customers are experiencing. As this technology trend becomes a mainstream in the market, and equipment assets begin to shift, we are available to assist your company in various asset management needs, including any asset appraisal valuation, liquidation services, and more.