3D tablets shake business models and at the same time generate new ones

Quantum Leap Innovation from the Perspective of Innovation Managers


If innovations fundamentally change products as well as initiate a new business model, then innovation managers should actually be sensitive.

This combination results in the following example from the area of the future individualized provision of personalized medicine.

Pharmaceutical tablets have been manufactured for about 100 years and, of course, today's production is highly innovative in terms of e.g. continuous manufacturing processes and high-performance tablet pressing machines. Nevertheless, in the last 10 years, new manufacturing processes have emerged through the use of 3D printers that produce products with interesting new properties. Thus, up to 5 different active substances can be combined in one tablet, so that - at least theoretically - in the future patients will have to consider much simpler dosing regimes (e.g. once a day one tablet instead of different tablets at different times). In small batch sizes, individual dosages of an active ingredient can be incorporated into the 3D tablets. The external appearance of these tablets can also be adapted to the needs of the patient in terms of shape or colour. Thus, intolerances can also be avoided by eliminating the need for 3D tablets for certain ingredients that are indispensable in conventional tablets (e.g. lactose) for patients with lactose intolerance. All these characteristics deserve the name of a quantum leap innovation for 3D vs. conventional tablets.

From the point of view of an innovation manager, however, an additional innovative business model is becoming interesting. The individual 3D-printed tablet can only be individualized if it is no longer printed centrally in the pharmaceutical company but rather decentrally in 3D. In the future, pharmacies with certified 3D printers, for example, or specialised service companies will be considered for this. The added value will therefore take place at a different location than in the previous model or will be distributed differently.


Thus the 3D printing of tablets should be established as an interesting and lucrative niche next to the conventional tablets produced by compaction. Even if the mass-produced traditional tablets, which can be produced in large volumes, will still be needed in the future, a new important field for individualised orally effective medicine will emerge.


How do innovation managers rate this assessment of the quantum leap potential of the 3D tablet?


Note: the entire article represents the opinion of the author and not that of any of his previous or current employers and this publication is not supported by them in any way.


Interested in more blogs on 3D printing?

In the previous episode, a quantum leap innovation from the perspective of technology vendors was discussed.


In the next episode the quantum leap innovation from the point of view of start-ups is explained.


Dr. Volker Moeckel

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