3d printers

3D printers produce personalized nutraceuticals

Quick hits:

  • UK-based Nourished uses 3D printing machines to layer different “blends” of active ingredients to quickly form a single product, which is specifically tailored to the consumer’s individual needs.
  • The fed wrappers each stack in home compostable packaging using an on-site flow wrapper at their Birmingham factory.
  • In May 2020, they introduced a letterbox-friendly box to house flow-packed batteries, which is made from at least 90% recycled cardboard from an EU supplier.
  • With Colgate, they are partnering to provide stacks specifically for oral care, with other partnerships and ingredients to be launched soon.

Related to this episode:

Listen to the story here:

Read the transcript below:

Hi, I’m Keren Sookne with another episode of Take Five Video with Healthcare Packaging.

McKinsey released a report not too long ago that said, “Consumers don’t just want personalization, they demand it. COVID-19 and the surge in digital behaviors have raised the bar for all players, both in terms of offerings and awareness.

Beyond personalized marketing communication, we’ve seen personalized skincare, haircare, and more, as consumers seek more personalized products over standard options.

It’s not easy for healthcare manufacturers who have spent decades churning out big batches of blockbuster drugs. As Kim Overstreet recently wrote, shorter, custom cycles in healthcare can strain the production capacity of older factories.

Well, a founder of a supplement company has seen a way to use 3D printing to provide custom gummies that meet the demand for bespoke vitamins, going beyond what many would consider short runs. at batches of just 28, a monthly supply.

Melissa Snover is a registered nutritionist and founder and CEO of the UK company Nourished.

She believes that the current industry standard for personalization — picking separate tablets and wrapping them together — isn’t necessarily practical, truly personalized, or durable.

In 2020, Snover launched Nourished’s Personalized Vitamins and Life-stacks. 3D printers layer different “mixtures” of active ingredients to quickly form a single product, tailored to the consumer’s individual needs. Stacks include made-to-order vitamins and ingredient combinations that are sugar-free, vegan, allergen-free, and packaged in home-compostable packaging.

So how does it work? Customers participate in a quick two-minute quiz, which generates recommendations for seven nutrient layers (out of 35 options) that best suit the individual via a proprietary algorithm.

They landed on seven nutrients in the stacks fed during product development – they found that the average consumer in the US and UK took between five and eight vitamins and nutrients a day.

After the customer completes the quiz and selects their flavor wrap from six options including strawberry, pineapple, and cola, their custom stack results are displayed, displaying the seven suggested nutrients. Colored batteries are available for both a one-time purchase and a longer-term subscription.

As Snover explains, Nourished uses a proprietary 3D file and motion instruction file in the 3D printer, which tells the printer what to create, how to move, and when to drop the gummy material.

They use fusion deposition modeling and seven printheads to create an industrial 3D printer capable of delivering a monthly supply of personalized supplements in just minutes. The machines use the normal X, Y and Z axes with the addition of a four-rotation axis, as well as an innovative plug-and-play cartridge retraction system, snover said. The production team selects seven cartridges containing the seven active ingredients tailored for a customer and loads them into the 3D printer to create the stacks. JThey use seven plastic-free, food-grade syringes, which 3D print in a rotational method to encapsulate all of the active ingredients without them destroying each other.

Nourished wraps each pile in a home compostable flow wrap made of wood pulp, personalized with the customer’s name on it. The individual wraps can be absorbed into the ground in 32 weeks – they are certified with the TUV Home Composting Standard and the ink used on the packaging is vegetable, that is to say water-based.

The set of 28 sachets is then packaged in a cardboard box. In this case, the machinery and packaging suppliers could not be shared.

After launch, they received feedback from customers indicating that they would prefer a smaller, more compact box. The team developed new packaging designed to reflect the premium brand, while providing convenient delivery and storage.

They introduced this letterbox-friendly cardboard in May 2020, which is made from at least 90% recycled cardboard. They looked for an ethical supplier based in the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when transporting the parcels.

A sleeve is only added to the outside of boxes in a retail environment to differentiate Life Stacks. Direct-to-consumer orders are placed inside the box only, with no tertiary packaging, to help reduce packaging and the company’s environmental impact.

Continuous evolution

The Nourished team is constantly working to adapt and become more efficient. This is facilitated by the fact that their printers are manufactured in-house. In their “print farm”, they constantly build, optimize and develop their hardware.

When they came up with the Nourished concept, there was no manufacturing process available that would allow them to achieve the level of customization they wanted. So they spent about 18 months in R&D to create their own prototype. They also overcame formulation challenges. Some of the raw ingredient flavors are hard to mask, especially the ashwagandha, so they did a lot of R&D on natural flavors that would complement and mask the range of 35 different ingredients they launched with.

Manufacturing the product and printers in-house gives Nourished control of its own supply chain, allowing it to scale up production, adapt based on customer feedback, and it will also allow it to expand its activities to new markets and regions in the future.

They currently market in the UK and US and plan to expand into Europe.

They continue to expand the list of sugar-free vegan nutrients they offer.

They are also expanding their facilities, with plans to open a new 20,000 square foot manufacturing site (their third in Birmingham) to increase production capacity by 1,000%.

In their work with Colgate, partners team up to provide batteries specifically for oral care. As Snover explains, exciting partnerships, new ingredients and product lines will soon be launched.

That’s all for today. See you next time at the Take Five video for Healthcare Packaging.