Two-Photon Polymerisation 3D Printing of Microneedle Array Templates with Versatile Designs: Application in the Development of Polymeric Drug Delivery Systems


Purpose To apply a simple and flexible manufacturing technique, two-photon polymerisation (2PP), to the fabrication of microneedle (MN) array templates with high precision and low cost in a short time.

Methods Seven different MN array templates were produced by 2PP 3D printing, varying needle height (900–1300 μm), shape (conical, pyramidal, cross-shaped and with pedestal), base width (300–500 μm) and interspacing (100–500 μm). Silicone MN array moulds were fabricated from these templates and used to produce dissolving and hydrogel-forming MN arrays. These polymeric MN arrays were evaluated for their insertion in skin models and their ability to deliver model drugs (cabotegravir sodium and ibuprofen sodium) to viable layers of the skin (ex vivo and in vitro) for subsequent controlled release and/or absorption.

Results The various templates obtained with 2PP 3D printing allowed the reproducible fabrication of multiple MN array moulds. The polymeric MN arrays produced were efficiently inserted into two different skin models, with sharp conical and pyramidal needles showing the highest insertion depth values (64–90% of needle height). These results correlated generally with ex vivo and in vitro drug delivery results, where the same designs showed higher drug delivery rates after 24 h of application.

Conclusion This work highlights the benefits of using 2PP 3D printing to prototype variable MN array designs in a simple and reproducible manner, for their application in drug delivery.


open access article


3D printing, dissolving, hydrogel-forming, microneedle array, two-photon polymerisation


Cordeiro, A.S., Tekko, I.A., Jomaa, M.H., Vora, L., McAlister, E., Volpe-Zanutto, F., Nethery, M., Baine, P.T., Mitchell, N., McNeill, D.W. and Donnelly, R.F. (2020) Two-photon polymerisation 3D printing of microneedle array templates with versatile designs: application in the development of polymeric drug delivery systems. Pharmaceutical research, 37, 174


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)