Many of us are just starting to get our first experiences with 3D printing. It’s exciting and cool but it’s not as new as we might think. 3D printing first appeared in the early 1980s but we’re just starting to imagine all the ways that we can use this ground-breaking technology.

If you’re not sure how 3D printing works, here’s a quick introduction. A 3D printer is essentially an industrial robot that makes (or “prints”) a three dimensional object from a digital file. 3D printers create objects by laying down successive layers of a material (typically a polymer, metal, or powder) to form an entire object. 3D printing is used for a wide range of applications. It’s currently very popular for consumer use in DIY Maker communities (do-it-yourself) with 3D printers starting at $1,000. Architects and designers are also using 3D printing to create fast models of their designs. Manufacturing companies use 3D printing for rapid prototyping and also for distributed manufacturing where a product can be “printed” anywhere in the world. Shoes, clothing, and food can be created using 3D printing. And now, the pharmaceutical industry is starting to explore how 3D printing can help us deliver better medicines.

Aprecia Pharmaceuticals recently announced some exciting news for people who take Levetiracetem a medication that helps prevent seizures. Levetiracetem comes in a large pill format that can be difficult for many adults and children to swallow. Doctors have long been aware of what happens if the experience of taking the medication is unpleasant. It’s common in these cases that patients will often skip, forgot, or avoid taking their medication.

Aprecia has developed a method called ZipDose that uses to 3D printing to manufacture Levetiracetem. The 3D printed tablets deliver a highly efficient dose and dissolve instantly with a sip of water. The drug’s new form is expected to greatly improve the experience of patients who take the medicine. It’s expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2016. The TA.XTPlus Texture Analyzer was used in to test and analyze the tablet’s dispersion time in aqueous fluid.

Read more about Aprecia Pharmaceutical’s new ZipDose technology here:

Request our application study “Distintegration of Tablets” on how to test fast disintegrating drugs with our texture analyzer here.