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Manufacture Packaging, Technology and Equipment, Small Molecules

Prototyping for Success

This article is part of our special focus on "traditional" pharma: The Small Molecule Manufacturer (read more here). You can find more articles from The Small Manufacturer here.

Using 3D printing, Maruho Hatsujyo Innovations, a Japanese company focusing on pharmaceutical and medical packaging machinery, has developed a new prototyping service for blister cavity design. “Additive manufacturing is all the rage in manufacturing, with companies making everything from aircraft blades to components for small machines. Why not apply it to blister packaging too?” says Benjamin Voelcker, Product Manager at the Medical Packaging Machinery Division of Maruho Hatsujyo Innovations. 

Clearly, it’s better (and much less expensive) to find – and fix – a problem at the design stage rather than discovering an issue further down the line. And that’s why extensive prototyping is attractive – but it’s also time consuming. “Prototyping is particularly important for blister packaging applications because the production tooling for blister machines is expensive. Lead times for traditional prototypes can run to 1 to 2 months because of the metal tooling involved,” explains Voelcker. “When testing cavity designs, brand owners want to be able to make changes quickly that take into account the properties of the film material and the behavior of the design.” For blister cavities, drug manufacturers need to assess factors such as childproofing, and conduct tests for stability and material limits for filming/lidding.

But 3D-printed prototypes can be produced in days rather than months, allowing companies to easily test multiple blister cavity options, and then compare the benefits of blister packaging over other packaging platforms, such as bottles. “The 3D printing process is also less expensive than using traditional metal tooling,” he says.

The company is also exploring how else 3D printing can be used in machine making. “Some customers need to shift sensors on machinery to different positioning for eye marks and print registration,” says Voelcker. “Additive manufacturing can be used to create simple brackets and small components that secure devices properly.”

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About the Author
Maryam Mahdi

Deputy Editor

After finishing my degree, I envisioned a career in science communications. However, life took an unexpected turn and I ended up teaching abroad. Though the experience was amazing and I learned a great deal from it, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Texere. I'm excited to see where this new journey takes me!

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