Print Technologies for Health

    Aerosol - Wikipedia illustrationHow can I surprise the owner of an inkjet printer? He already knows that the volume of a droplet flying out at space speeds from a print head is measured in picoliters (nano is the last century). He knows that printing with an inkjet printer can already be cheaper than using a laser. He knows that ink has not been smeared from a sheet for a long time and does not blur from a drop of water. This has all become advertising stamps.

    But did you think your printer could cure you of a cold, for example? Well, your home or MFPs at work cannot. But the device for controlled spraying of drugs, based on the usual technology of inkjet printing - yes. At least, HP received such a patent on June 1.

    The need for such a device in medicine arises for several reasons. Firstly, inhaled aerosol is the most convenient way to introduce many types of drugs into the human body.

    But to achieve maximum aerosol efficacy is almost impossible today. If the droplets sprayed with a can of medicine are too large (more than 6 microns in diameter), the medicine will settle in the throat and trachea before reaching the lungs. By making drops smaller, we will get further into the body. But if the drops are too small (less than 0.5 microns) - the person will simply exhale them. As a result, if the droplet size falls outside the range of 1-5 μm, the aerosol is practically useless. But even within this range, the size must be varied depending on which disease and which medicine we are treating.

    Therefore, drug manufacturers are forced to invent many different spray heads. And their effectiveness still strongly depends on the pressure on the spray, the direction of spraying, the temperature of the medicine and other factors that cannot be predicted. All this increases the cost of the medicine and makes the person’s recovery more difficult.

    Managed aerosol spray device - illustration from HP patentThe problem is solved using a "smart" spraying system, which can itself evaluate all the factors and adjust the droplet size as needed. Its composition and principle of operation as a whole repeats the print head - the processor with the help of electric pulses affects the surface tension of the liquid and forms clearly measured drops.

    Interestingly, this patent was filed back in February 2003. During this time, the production of heads for printers has become truly massive, making their cost price extremely low. So, perhaps, in the near future we will see new types of aerosols on the shelves of pharmacies.

    By the way, other HP patents can be studied here - look, there are many more interesting things that you hardly expect to see.

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