Tablet Press Makers Take Steps to Ease Changeover, Tighten Performance

Aug. 5, 2003

Fill, compress, eject, repeat. The essential mechanical steps involved in squeezing granulated materials into solid dose tablets have long been understood. And with high speed presses now surpassing the million-tablet-per-hour mark, press manufacturers have turned their attention from sheer speed to other features designed to make presses easier to live with and maintain.

Among the prevalent trends are dual-zone designs that facilitate integrated cleaning or washing-in-place. This avoids the need for manual disassembly and speeds product changeover, notes Mike Waxman, Ph.D., professor of biotechnology and pharmaceutical science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More instrumentation and advanced controls are gathering increasing amounts of operational data for improved performance, notes Steve Hoag, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Ultimately, real-time near-infrared analysis will be used to close the loop on tablet quality, he says.

Tablet press validation requirements also are on the rise, adds Armin Gerhardt, Ph.D., senior program manager for Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill. "More records, more parameters and more stringent limits."

The physics, too, are being pushed forward with mechanical advances allowing press manufacturers to ratchet up dwell time--the amount of time pressure is applied to a tablet--increasing tablet hardness without slowing throughput.

Centrifugal Feed Complements Double-Sided Compression

In the IMA Comprima 600 double-sided tablet press, powder feed by centrifugal force minimizes product loss and ensures high production speeds, even with oblong or shaped tablets. Increased compression and pre-compression improves tablet quality even at speeds to 600,000 tablets per hour. Special seals between the processing and mechanical areas facilitate rapid size changeover.

IMA North America, Inc.


Tablet Press Features Facilitate 21 CFR Part 11 Compliance

Control system for the new XL800 double-sided tablet press offers a secure password login system, an electronic audit trail (event log and alarm history), product recipe capability and comprehensive batch data management. The unit can be configured with automatic sampling units to measure tablet weight, thickness and hardness "all with real-time feedback for fully automated production. The machine is supported by a comprehensive validation documentation package and a detailed training certification program. Other features include a versatile exchangeable turret, two-zone design for easy cleaning and low-noise operation.

Korsch America, Inc.


Compression Compartment Redesigned for Efficient Self-Cleaning

Elizabeth-Hata's new self-cleaning tabletting press system features separate washing and drying cycles to speed up cleaning and changeover times. This new tablet press design has been mechanically modified to perform under strict production guidelines and to help eliminate operator exposure to hazardous pharmaceutical products. Other key features of the washable press include rotating nozzles for pressure washing of the tablet compression containment department, internal washing of the material hoppers and internal and external cleaning of the feed shoes, upper cams, lower cams and punch guides.

Elizabeth-Hata International


Fully Contained Self-Cleaning System Boosts Safety Efficiency

New Fette wash-in-place (WIP) integrated tableting systems embrace the full process flow, from alpha-beta valve through tablet bin, all isolated in a single system in one process room. "Fully contained, Fette's WIP system eliminates the need for space suits, enhances production safety and does away with the need to open the tablet press or any other area of the system to remove parts prior to the wash cycle," explains Rich Derickson, vice president of sales and operations. The WIP system is available on the company's full line of tablet presses, including the new i-Series of high speed machines capable of producing more than 1.5 million tablets per hour.

Fette America


Instrumentation Package Improves Tablet Quality

The latest model of HealthStar's JCMCO high-speed tablet press includes a programmable- logic-controller-based system that improves press operation and product consistency. Among the parameters now controlled and displayed are pressure and compression force, ejected tablet statistics and a variety of other user selectable tolerance for preventing off-spec production.

HealthStar, Inc.


High Speed Press Sports PLC and Touch-Screen Controls

The Millennium series of tablet presses from CapPlus Technologies features fully automatic operation facilitated through programmable-logic-control-based controls and a touchscreen operator interface mounted on a swing-out arm enclosure. Other features designed to reduce maintenance and speed product changeover include an automatic lubrication system, quick-release rails, variable speed drives for both main and feeder drives and dial adjustments for punch penetration depth, filling depth and tablet thickness.

CapPlus Technologies


Tablet Deduster Breaks Down in 15 Seconds for Quick Cleaning

Fully immersible brush deduster breaks down to five components for cleaning in less than 15 seconds, leaving only the wash-down base. The drive assembly uses a unique, piston-driven air motor sealed in a water-tight housing. The air motor consumes little air while giving quiet, reliable operation.

AC Compacting


Vacuum Conveyors Transport Granular Formulations

The C-series of conveyors is powered by pneumatically driven vacuum pumps, safely and quietly transporting 10-15 tons/hour of powders or granules. HEPA filter design can trap particles down to 0.3 microns.The design of the new conveyor improves the vacuum-assisted flow by 25 percent without affecting energy consumption. The conveyors are available in diameters of 21, 33 and 56 cm.