As the demand for pharmaceutical products increases, so does the need for better pharmaceutical machinery. To meet medication needs, pharmaceutical companies worldwide rely on the latest and advanced pharmaceutical machinery to produce medicines. Tablets and capsules are the two most popular medicine consumption mediums, as they are small, convenient, and easy to swallow. Pharmaceutical manufacturers pay extra attention to tablet production to advance the scope of pharmaceutical tools.

Technological growth and development are requirements for thriving in today’s digital world. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry is using its resources and expertise to create high-quality machines to make tablet and capsule production efficient and quick. These world-class machines support cutting-edge technology that allows companies and manufacturers to provide the healthcare sector with high-value and best-quality medication.

Types of Pharmaceutical Machinery

Pharmaceutical production machines do not follow the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Since every tablet differs in composition, each device caters to different powders. Every machine is compatible with a capsule’s unique properties and reaction to internal or external factors. Capsule production machines range in size, design, and function, depending on the capsule’s requirements.

Powder Mixing Machines

While some medicines contain a single powder, others are made of multiple. Powder mixers ensure a tablet has the right amount of mixture, making them integral to pharmaceutical production. Even though the basic machinery design, which came into existence almost half a century ago, still delivers excellent results, the industry is slowly gravitating towards more advanced builds. Traditional powder mixing machines still perform most functions; however, more intricate technologies make the process faster and more effective.

This pharmaceutical tablet machinery thoroughly mixes the components, coats and granulates them, and blends them firmly to ensure the particles remain intact. This equipment also ensures the powder components combine to meet market regulations and demands. Various tools operate in tandem to mix powders, including:

Tumbling Blenders

A tumbling blender best works with powders of similar thickness. When mixing powders with matching solidity, the machine mixes them based on their ability to flow rather than their overall composition. There are various pharmaceutical blenders, such as double cone, Y-cone, cylindrical, and diverging.

Electronic Mortar and Pestle

Electronic Mortar and Pestle (EMP) machinery is a low-maintenance tool used for small-scale production. It breaks down the powder to its raw or original form and, in the same operation, mixes them if and when needed. Some powders require sizable reductions for easier consumption, and EMP customizes its size.

Pestles and mortars are made using the same materials. However, while a grinder uses the same material as the mortar, mortars can vary in design. Traditional mortars are made of glass and porcelain, but modern-day equipment uses electronic mortar, hence its name.

Fluid Mixer

Powder particles must be heated and exposed to air to achieve fluidity. The fluid mixer blends them before granulation. When circulated, liquefied powder accelerates mixing. Once the contents are merged thoroughly, the mixer adds granulation fluid from the equipment using a spray channel onto the fluidized particles to begin granulation. After pouring the required amount of water to form proper granules, the liquefied granules are dried using hot air.

Fluid Bed Dryer with Bowl

Ribbon Mixer

The ribbon mixer involves two tools: blades and a shaft. The paddles are attached to the shaft to produce capsules, placed in the mixer’s center, and moved in a circular direction to mix the powder. Unlike tumbling blenders that only work with decent flows and segregate powders, this machinery blends slow-flowing powders without segregating them.

Ribbon Blender

Revolving Screw Blender

A revolving screw blender, also known as an orbiting blender, features a bottom part that discharges the powder. The discharger includes a rotating screw connected to its upper end. The screw carries the powder to the top area, which flows opposite toward the powder section. This pharmaceutical capsule machinery combines vertical and horizontal blades to enable different mixing mechanisms.

Beater / Mass Mixer

A beater is another vital component of a powder mixer. It includes a paddle that serves as an anchor and orbits inside a cylinder chamber with a curved surface. The paddle moves in one place, providing energy and removing it from the product when required.

The cylindrical chamber is raised to the blades’ height to accelerate the mixing process. The mixing paddles are placed in the mixer’s center, where they rotate in their position and, simultaneously, around the mixer’s middle point. Rotating in two places ensures the powder mixes thoroughly without neglecting the inner spots. As it mixes mass volume of raw at once, so it is also called Mass Mixer.

Capsule Filling Machines (Encapsulators)

Capsule filling machines, or encapsulators, are pharmaceutical tools that fill empty capsules (usually soft or hard gelatin tablets) with powders. Regardless of the tablet’s size, this machinery fills them with fluid particles, granules, or powders containing different pharmaceutical materials, such as drugs and ingredients.

There are three types of encapsulators, depending on their need or the tablet’s function and the manufacturing quantity.

Manual Encapsulators

Manual capsule filling machines comprise a bed with approximately 300 punctures, a loading and powder tray, a pin supporter with around 300 pins, a sealer with a rubber blocker, a lever, and a clamp with over 200 punctures. This machine assists SME healthcare providers with impromptu or urgent requirements by producing over 6,000 tablets per hour.

Manual Capsule Filling Machine

Partially Automatic Encapsulators

This capsule filler is neither entirely manual nor machine-run; it combines both mediums. It simplifies capsule-filling production by making it efficient and convenient. Additionally, it passes the hygiene test required by healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical sector. It is also known as semi-automatic capsule filling machine.

Its basic structure and solid infrastructure give it durability and strength, making it an investment. It is made of stainless steel and other rust-resistant materials used to build construction equipment, such as lifters, movers, and heavy machinery. Since its parts don’t rust easily, they are easy to clean and maintain, making the machine compatible with powder and pharmaceutical regulations. It fills powder and granules smoothly, quickly, and safely.

Semi-Automatic Capsule Filling Machine

Automatic Encapsulators

As the name suggests, automatic capsule filling machines run on automated technology. Their composition and design allow them to fill empty capsules made of thick gelatin with powder. Since this machinery runs on digital software, it comes in handy during large-scale and lengthy capsule production processes. These machines last years and are resistant to fluctuating pressures and climate changes, making them reliable tools to maintain the powders’ composition and the table’s structure.

Additionally, automatic filling machines operate without extra or third-party support. If additional assistance is required, pharmaceutical manufacturers connect components such as capsule refining tools, capsule fixers, or dust removers to the main machine.

Capsule fillers oversee various functions and ensure the capsules maintain their integrity. The five primary goals of this machine are:

  • Fixing capsules with poor or damaged gelatin
  • Removing the capsule caps without breaking them or the body
  • Filling the bodies with powder, granules, or liquid materials
  • Re-attaching the disjointed capsule caps

Carefully removing the powder from capsules in case of expired, wrong, or poor powder composition

Fully Automatic Capsule Filling Machine

Tablet Coaters

Sometimes, certain tablets contain an extra layer or coating to prevent damage, preserve their composition, or hide their strong scent. Tablet coaters are the devices in charge of ensuring tablets have additional layers for maximum protection and optimum performance. These tablet production machines apply a dry and thin coat on the tablet’s outer surface. This equipment has various benefits, such as:

  • Containing the natural smell or taste of the medicine
  • Preventing physical or chemical harm to the tablet
  • Making the tablet resistant to air, humidity, heat, harsh light, or other environmental factors
  • Minimizing the poor or strong taste of medicines that causes nausea or vomiting
  • Ensuring dissolving drugs in water during consumption does not taste unpleasant.
  • Allowing for a comfortable swallowing process without the medicine getting stuck inside the throat
  • Improving the tablet’s outer appearance, such as structure, shape, and color, and maintaining its density
  • Providing extra packaging support by increasing the outer layer’s compatibility with packaging products
  • Ensuring volatile substances inside tablets remain intact, preventing their leakage.

Ensuring the tablet does not come in contact with the person producing and manufacturing the tablet in case of potent inner compositions. Tablet coating machine plays role efficiently in final processing of tablets.

Tablet Press Machines

Tablet press machines or tableting equipment break down powders into tablets of similar builds, such as size, shape, and weight. Additionally, the tablets contain the same Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) ingredients in equal dosages. In addition to serving as pharmaceutical machinery, tablet pressers are popular machines in manufacturing cleaners, beauty products, and recreational drugs, such as weed and amphetamines.

Tablet press machinery uses standard compression mechanisms. The primary function of tablet press equipment comprises two punches (upper and lower) and a platform containing the tablet composition. The punches combine on the station, thus meeting the tablet powder. Tableting machines have evolved from manual operations to running on electricity and automated software.

Primarily, there are two tablet press machines: single punch and rotary press.

Tablet Compression Machine

Single Press Machine

Single-punch machines are simplified machines that do not involve complex manufacturing processes. This tool uses one tooling kit comprising a die and two punches. These GMP complies machine produce one tablet at a time with production output up to 3000 tablets per hour.

Rotary Press

Rotary tablet press machine comprises various models that differ in size, shape, storage room, and acceleration. This device uses several tooling kits that rotate to break down powder mixtures into tablets with similar size, weight, and structure. Usually used in large-scale operations, this machine produces many drugs in a limited duration than single press machines.

In this machine, both punches work together to exert high and tight pressure on the filling material, thus compressing the powder particles in the center. A rotary press machine’s storage depends on its rotation speed and the number of tooling kits.

Vibration Mills

Vibration mills or vibro sifters reduce the size of the powder particles by exerting continuous force to reduce the powder’s size. The compression container comprises a tube supported by various springs made of stainless steel. During this process, the entire machine experiences small but constant vibrations applied by a motor, which reduces the size due to its continuous impact. In most cases, the vibrations travel vertically, though it is not a hard and fast rule.

Vibration mills are popular and go-to pharmaceutical production machines due to their various benefits, such as:

  • This machinery makes compressing hard gelatin more efficient and quick.
  • The stainless steel inside the mills only slides a couple of millimeters down an intricate channel while breaking down every material it encounters.

Vibration mills display incredible grinding capacity, range, and speed when compressing fine particles.

Disc Mills / Multi Mill

Disc mills / Multi Mills are pharmaceutical machines that separate core materials without affecting the coarse portion. It includes two horizontal steel stations featuring vertical separators placed in symmetrical circles in opposite directions that converge toward the corners.

This equipment uses various pin dissolvers connected to the discs. The pins are located in the grinding chamber that constantly rotates to generate high energy between the mills and powder granules. Disc mills break up starch and protein combinations inside the powder and segregate them to create fine and organic mixtures.

Roller Mills / Roll Compactors

This compression tool uses three types of cylindrical wheels connected horizontally. Each wheel rotates on its axis alternatively to crush powder materials. Out of the three wheels, a motor runs one, and the other two move via friction, as the materials seep through the open spaces between them. Roller mills put pressure on the wheels, accelerating tablet production. Due to powder compactation nature equipment known as Roll Compactor and Roller Compactor Machine.

The rollers move on their axis at different speeds, shearing the material every time it travels through the gaps. When deciding on a fixed particle composition, capsule manufacturers monitor three factors:

  • The space between all three wheels
  • The speed of each roller

Feeding and discharging rate

Wrapping Up

Pharmaceutical machinery has come a long way to help the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors grow. Manufacturers design various machinery, varying in size, design, and speed, depending on the drug’s requirements.

For instance, tablet press machines compress tablets with a uniform composition, whereas vibration mills use vibrations to break up the particles. Similarly, tablet coating equipment applies an additional layer to protect the medicine from damage or leakage. However, regardless of the different designs, every device focuses on making tablet and capsule production faster, better, and more efficient.

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