Optimization of stereolithography 3D printing of microneedle micro-molds for ocular drug delivery

Rawan Fitaihi, Shorooq Abukhamees, Se Hun Chung, Duncan Q. M. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microneedles (MN) have emerged as an innovative technology for drug delivery, offering a minimally invasive approach to administer therapeutic agents. Recent applications have included ocular drug delivery, requiring the manufacture of sub-millimeter needle arrays in a reproducible and reliable manner. The development of 3D printing technologies has facilitated the fabrication of MN via mold production, although there is a paucity of information available regarding how the printing parameters may influence crucial issues such as sharpness and penetration efficacy. In this study, we have developed and optimized a 3D-printed MN micro-mold using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing to prepare a dissolving ocular MN patch. The effects of a range of parameters including aspect ratio, layer thickness, length, mold shape and printing orientation have been examined with regard to both architecture and printing accuracy of the MN micro-mold, while the effects of printing angle on needle fidelity was also examined for a range of basic shapes (conical, pyramidal and triangular pyramidal). Mechanical strength and in vitro penetration of the polymeric (PVP/PVA) MN patch produced from reverse molds fabricated using MN with a range of shapes and height, and aspect ratios were assessed, followed by ex vivo studies of penetration into excised scleral and corneal tissues. The optimization process identified the parameters required to produce MN with the sharpest tips and highest dimensional fidelity, while the ex vivo studies indicated that these optimized systems would penetrate the ocular tissue with minimal applied pressure, thereby allowing ease of patient self-administration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124195
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Early online date3 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2024

Data Availability Statement

Data will be made available on request.


  • 3D printing
  • Microneedle geometry
  • Microneedles
  • Molds
  • Ocular drug delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science

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