An automatic capsule filling machine is an assembly of different parts that form a complete system. Broadly, these parts are mechanical, electrical or hydraulic components, which form either stationary or moving sections.
In this article, you’ll learn about 13 most important parts of automatic capsule filling machines. These key parts/sections include:
- Capsule Hopper with Level Sensor
- Capsule Feeding Unit
- Powder Hopper with Screw Feeding
- Powder Dosage Filling Device with Level Sensor
- Complete Closed Rotary Turret
- Mechanical Drive System
- Lubrication System
- Vacuum System
- Interlocked Safety Door
- PLC and Touch Screen Control System
- Automatic Loading Device for Empty Capsule
- Automatic Loading Device for Powder
- Capsule Polishing Machine with Sorter and Metal Detector
1. Capsule Hopper with Level Sensor
The capsule hopper stores all capsules you intend to fill. It is made of stainless steel container that could be cubic, cylindrical or conical in shape.
In automated encapsulates, the hopper is equipped with a level sensor. This sensor ensures the amount of empty capsules remain at a predetermined level.
A capsule hopper may have two level sensors. That is, one for low level while the other for high level sensing.Depending on the level of capsules, the machine will automatically begin loading empty capsules into the capsule filler hopper. Alternatively, it may shut off the automatic encapsulator in case the capsule hopper remains empty.A hopper may have a gate to regulate the amount of capsules that go to the filling unit.
2. Capsule Feeding Unit
Quite a number of capsule feeding units have a calibrated wheel that is in constant rotary motion. They only allow perfect capsules to pass through to the main capsule hopper.Normally, these wheels are available in different shapes and sizes. Capsules from the feeding unit may be fed to the main hopper either by uplifting belt or vibrations.
Depending on the design, a capsule feeding unit may have several components. In most machines, the feeding unit connects to the main hopper via the vacuum loader.Also, the automatic capsule filling machines have their feeding units located on top of the machine.
3. Powder Hopper with Screw Feeding
A powder hopper holds all the powder that is fed into the machine through the powder port. Depending on the type of machine, this equipment may have a level sensor that detects the quantity of powder in the hopper.
Even though there are different mechanisms of moving the powder from the hopper to the capsule filling system, most capsule filling equipment use screw feeding mechanism. That is, the powder is moved from the encapsulator hopper to the filling section by a screw conveyor.Powder hoppers with screw feeding are also available in different designs and shapes. In fact, there are those that will continually mix the powders before discharging it to the capsule filling system.In most designs, a powder hopper is located in the same sections (level) as the capsule hopper. The powder level control feeds the powder when the quantity is not sufficient.This equipment is made from stainless steel.
4. Powder Dosage Filling Device with Level Sensor
A powder dosage filling device delivers a precise quantity of powder into the filling funnels. With a level sensor, the automatic capsule filler will release or cut the supply of more powder.That is, a powder dosage filling device with level sensor will automatically control the amount of powder from the hopper to the filling device.During the capsule filling process, the powder is held on a dosing disc, which can later be released into the filling funnels by compressed air jet.Also, depending on the size of the automatic encapsulator, a machine may have one or two powder dosage filling devices.
5. Complete Closed Rotary Turret
First, the rotary turret is completely closed to keep the moving parts free from dust. This is a manufacturing practice as recommended by the cGMP.With the complete closed rotary turret system, the automatic capsule filler machine orients capsules into turret. Quite a number of encapsulating machines use a rotary rectifications system.
Also, at this stage, the capsules move to the blocks containing cups while excess powder or pellets go back to the hopper. Again, during this process, these machines use a continuous motion for the closing action.The design of an automatic capsule filling machine turret will determine ease of validation and the degree of versatility for dosages.
6. Mechanical Drive System
The design and configuration of automatic capsule filler machine create linear, rotary or oscillatory motion depending on the design of the mechanical drive system.All the moving parts in a capsule filling machine depend on a mechanical drive system. This is in the form of mechanical motors that create motion to move gears and conveyor systems.In the modern manufacturing setup, all mechanical drives such as drive gears and conveyor systems are fully enclosed to keep them free from dust.
For the automatic capsule filler, a PLC system controls the mechanical drives. This ensures accuracy and consistency in the powder filling process.Broadly, all mechanical drives in an automatic capsule filling machines include: main drive, hopper drive, vacuum pump and motor drive.
7. Lubrication System
A fully automatic capsule filler has a number of moving parts. Whether you opt for a dosator or piston encapsulator.You’ll have to lubricate moving pistons and other mechanical parts to reduce wear and tear. This ensures clean ejection.
This system automatically lubricates tamping and dosing discs to ensure efficient plug injection. It will reduce friction in the sliding components.In most automatic encapsulations machines, a thin layer of oil lubricates the ribbon both during sealing and filling process. The modern machines come with advanced lubrication systems with fine filters.Some of the most common lubricants include digestible mineral oil, Miglyol 812 and fractionated coconut oil.An automatic encapsulating machine with a centralized lubrication system will extend the life span of the machine.
8. Vacuum System
Depending on the design of an automatic capsule filler, a vacuum system plays the following roles:
- A vacuum loader may connect capsule loading part to the capsule hopper and powder loading port to powder hopper.
- The vacuum system separates empty capsules (vacuum separator). This ensures the capsules don’t get damaged during the process.
Moreover, other automatic encapsulating machines have vacuum cleaning station. This cleans up the machine in each cycle.Furthermore, there are capsule filling machines that pick up products using a vacuum system mechanism. In short, a vacuum system plays an integral in the working process of an automated capsule filling machine.
9. Interlocked Safety Door
Safety is an integral aspect when operating any machinery. In automatic capsule filling machines, the interlock safety door connects to the protection switch.
It works such that the machine stops when users open the door. This ensures no one can access the moving and electrical parts of capsule filling machine when it is on/in operation.
10. PLC and Touch Screen Control System
A fully automatic capsule filling machine uses SIEMENS PLC. This ensures reliable operation during the entire process.Also, these encapsulating machines have an easy to use human machine interface (HMI) in the form of a touch screen. The PLC and touch screen control system form part of an electric control box of automatic capsule filler.Other control elements include:
- Micro-electric current control that protects the machine from overload.
- Emergency stop and vacuum gauges for capsule separation.
- Intelligence mold control
These automatic systems, you’ll upload all instructions that will operate the machine in the PLC’s microprocessor (a coded program). Through the HMI, users can monitor and set automatic capsule filler through the touch screen.The control system is integrated such that the machine can operate efficiently without human intervention. This reduces labor costs.A fully automated control system can be optional, especially when dealing with semi-automatic capsule filling machines.
11. Automatic Loading Device for Empty Capsule
In a fully automatic capsule filling machine, an automatic loading device for empty capsules becomes handy to meet high production demands.With an automatic loading device, even a semi-skilled individuals can operate the capsule filling machines successfully.
It has different options such as starting and stopping the capsule loading process automatically. Depending on the type of machine, an automatic loading device for empty capsules may have 2 or more loading plates.It is ideal for both small and large scale capsule filling productions. This is perfect choice where one wishes to reduce production and labor costs.
12. Automatic Loading Device for Powder
The automatic loading device is fitted in automatic encapsulating machines to ensure consistency and accuracy. This reduces the possibility of wastages and capsule rejection.
Moreover, it is suitable for high production output since it is integrated with other components such as the automatic capsule loading. As a result, it can start or stop filling the capsules depending on whether there capsules in the system or not. This reduces possible wastages due to improper coordination.
13. Capsule Polishing Machine with Sorter and Metal Detector
You can hook the capsule polishing machine with sorter and metal detector directly to any automatic capsule filling machine. It helps to polish capsules, giving them appealing look.This machine rejects low weight, loose or empty capsules. Moreover, it does not destroy the printed surface of capsules.Therefore, this modern capsule polishing is a perfect choice compared to the old designs.
As a matter of fact, an automatic capsule filling machine has hundreds of small parts. In fact, the number of parts will depend on the complexity of the machine.However, having a basic knowledge about these 13 most important parts of the automatic capsule filling machine is essential when acquiring a new machine. Moreover, you need to refer to the automatic capsule filler manufacturer manual to learn more information about a specific machine.