An easy 3D printing approach to manufacture vertical diffusion cells for in vitro release and permeation studies

Mattia Tiboni, Giulia Curzi, Annalisa Aluigi, Luca Casettari

Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology Volume 65, October 2021, 102661; Link


Vertical diffusion cells are commonly used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic fields to study the release and permeation of active ingredients through synthetic or biological membranes. Nevertheless, the commercially available glass-based systems are expensive and need to be carefully handled due to their fragility. Fused deposition modeling 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technique that allows producing objects layer by layer using different thermoplastic materials. Among them, polypropylene is a robust, flexible, and chemically inert polymer that can resist to many organic solvents. In this work, we designed and printed a vertical diffusion cell following pharmacopeia requirements by using polypropylene in a fused deposition modeling 3D printer. To keep the system thermostated, the developed model fits in a heating block to avoid the use of water recirculating system.

The vertical diffusion cells were leak-free and presented chemical resistance and no interaction with model molecules (i.e., caffeine, diclofenac sodium, and glycyrrhetinic acid). The 3D printed cells were compared to commercially available glass cells and then two different types of synthetic membranes (i.e.PDMS and Strat-M®) were used to evaluate the permeation of a caffeine hydrogel. The developed 3D printed testing system could represent an efficient alternative to the glass-based equipment.

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