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An Inside Look at Drug-Delivery Devices

Full-color 3D X-ray GIFs bring to light the complex mechanisms of inhalers and EpiPens.

Kassandra Kania

August 18, 2022

3 Slides

Their streamlined exteriors belie the intricate, multi-component systems within that deliver life-saving drugs quicker than you can say EpiPen.

We’re referring to this month’s packaging designs for combination devices featured on Scan of the Month. Founded by a group of engineers at Lumafield, the website reveals the hidden wonders of engineering through CT scans (computed tomography) that create volumetric models of everyday objects. But the images aren’t just visually appealing: Data is used for inspection and quality control of critical components and assemblies.

The website started with a few scans of Lego characters and progressed from there. This month, employees scanned expired inhalers and EpiPens and discovered complex plastic mechanisms, such as bellows, cams, ratchets, and mixers.

Visitors to the website can learn more about the complicated geometries and manufacturing processes that go into storing, mixing, and delivering these complex compounds. For example, the two components in powder asthma inhalers are stored in a storage hopper in the handle and mixed together when the device is shaken. Scans show the mouthpiece protected by a hinged cover that, when opened, kicks off a mechanical sequence to prepare a dose for inhalation.

Another fascinating scan is the Auvi-Q autoinjector, which automatically drives and retracts its needle, with drug delivery happening in less than two seconds — one second faster than the EpiPen.

And for those who are still confused about how these devices work, each CT scan is accompanied by a blurb describing the mechanisms of action. Viewers can penetrate the outer casing with X-ray vision and study the device’s innards from multiple angles while reading the detailed copy.

Users who want to delve deeper into the subject matter can create a free account on the website to interact with Scan of the Month data.

About the Author(s)

Kassandra Kania

Freelance Writer

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. She has written extensively about healthcare packaging for a variety of publications.

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