Fused deposition modeling (FDMTM
) is a 3D-printing technology of rising interest for the manufacturing of customizable solid dosage forms. The coupling of hot-melt extrusion with FDMTM
is favored to allow the production of pharma-grade filaments for the printing of medicines. Filament diameter consistency is a quality of great importance to ensure printability and content uniformity of 3D-printed drug delivery systems. A systematical process analysis referring to filament diameter variations has not been described in the literature. The presented study aimed at a process setup optimization and rational process analysis for filament fabrication related to influencing parameters on diameter inhomogeneity. In addition, the impact of diameter variation on the critical quality attributes of filaments (mechanical properties) and uniformity of mass of printed drug-free dosage forms was investigated. Process optimization by implementing a winder with a special haul-off unit was necessary to obtain reliable filament diameters. Subsequently, the optimized setup was used for conduction of rational extrusion analysis. The results revealed that an increased screw speed led to diameter fluctuations with a decisive influence on the mechanical resilience of filaments and mass uniformity of printed dosage forms. The specific feed load was identified as a key parameter for filament diameter consistency.
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