HP claims inkjet printing technology could be used to inject drugs into humans:
The company is licensing a medical patch it has developed to Ireland's Crospon that potentially can replace hypodermic needles or pills for delivering vaccines or other types of medication to patients. The patch contains up to 90,000 microneedles per square inch, microprocessors and a thermal unit.
Medications contained in the patch are heated and then injected through the needles. Processors can monitor drug delivery, deliver doses over extended periods of time or deliver drugs in response to a patient's vital signs (e.g., blood pressure or heart rate), depending on how it is programmed.
"You can have combinations of different drugs delivered at different times," said Joe Beyers, vice president of HP's intellectual property licensing group.
Nicotine patches work by letting the skin absorb chemicals. By penetrating the skin with microscopic needles, the patch can, ideally, deliver dosages in a more controlled fashion.
The technology and equipment used to make the array of needles was adopted from HP's inkjet manufacturing, said Beyers. The heating element is also the same one used inside inkjet heads.