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Drying Systems for Softgels: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re into manufacturing of soft gelatin capsules, then drying is one of the most crucial stages you should always be aware of.

It is this stage that determines the quality of the final product.

A fact you can’t run away from is that drying softgel capsules requires proper mechanism and equipment.

And failure to obtain them would result in loss of time and resources.

The good news?

In this guide, I am going to show you how to buy a drying system for Softgel capsules.

So, if you’re looking for information about Softgel capsules drying systems, then you’re at the right place.

But first, let’s begin with:

Softgel Encapsulation Process

As you know, manufacturing of softgel is something which takes place in stages using high-grade machines.

Actually, the process is somewhat simple as long as you have all the necessary ingredients and machinery for the task.

Softgel encapsulation machine

Softgel encapsulation machine

And what’s critical regarding all these stages is that you have to perform each set accurately for high quality and useful end products.

Here’s the basic process that revolves around the process of soft gelatin encapsulation:

  • First of all, you have to prepare the ideal gelatin material which you want to use. Remember the type of material you choose matters significantly since it’s what forms the softgel’s

In gelatin preparation, you merely need a number of ingredients including water, plasticizer, opacifying agents and gelatin itself.

In the process, you’ll have to mix all these ingredients appropriately to get the ideal shell for your softgel product.

  • The second aspect of this process involves preparation of fill material. This is essentially the actual content that you’d want to encapsulate inside the gelatin shell.

The nature of fill material might vary depending on different needs and might include liquid, semi-solid solution, and suspension.

A critical aspect of fill material preparation is ensuring that you make it homogeneous.

This increases product quality and effectiveness.

  • The third element is about the actual encapsulation process. But first, you must ensure you have the right encapsulation machine. I can’t stop emphasizing on this point.

In fact, you can read more about an ideal machine –Learn More about Softgel Encapsulation Machine.

Softgel Encapsulation machine

Softgel encapsulation machine

This is the stage where both the gelatin shell and the fill material come together.

  • Then the final aspect of this process involves further or continuous processing of the filled softgel capsules.

Drying is part of this further process which helps to remove excess moisture from the product.

This stage often involves two major aspects which include; tumbler drying and stackable tray drying.

Soft gelatin capsules

Soft gelatin capsules

Anyway, you can get detailed information regarding the same here:Soft Gelatin Capsules Manufacturing Process.

For now, let’s quickly move on to the next section and look at some of the softgel drying machines to consider using;

Softgel Drying Machines

Well, this is arguably one of the most important sections of this guide.

And for that reason, I’d wish that you read it keenly so that you can understand what it revolves around.

Like I’ve mentioned in the previous sections, drying stage is a critical element of softgel encapsulation process.

It has a way of enabling the product to create an ideal shape through firming and shrinking.

Different shapes of softgel capsules

Different shapes of Softgel capsules

Softgel drying machines also reduce the risk of fill material leakage thus making it possible for you to pack them adequately.

Listen carefully;

It is ideal to embrace drying process of softgel during encapsulation.

However, you also have to be cautious when undertaking this process.

You see, what happens is that there are different types of softgel drying systems applicable tovarious products.

And again, various companies use different types of these systems.

For that reason, let me guide you through the most common types of softgel drying machines you can opt for in case you need one.

a) Tumble Dryers

Tumble dryer refers to a comparatively large basket which rotates as a way of removing excess moisture from the softgel capsule.

Tumble dryer can be one or multiple depending on the design of the softgel encapsulating machine.

Tumble dryer

Tumble dryer

But this is also dependent on the quantity of capsules that you need to produce at a particular time.

What this means is that the tumble dryer is a fundamental aspect of the drying system for softgel capsules.

And on the same note, let’s discuss some of the few elements regarding tumble dryers;

· Softgel Tumble Dryer Design

The softgel tumble dryer comes in different designs, of course depending on the particular type of machine.

Nonetheless, the design of this component is in a way that facilitates easy and simple drying mechanism for these capsules.

Tumble dryer

Tumble dryer

In many encapsulation machines though, the design of a softgel tumble dryer is linked directly to the conveyor belts.

What happens, in this case, is that the softgel capsules go directly to the tumbler dryer immediately after leaving the die cast.

Soft gelatin capsules also come in different dimensions, shapes, sizes and weight.

Additionally, an ideal design should be expandable and flexible.

It is thus necessary to make sure that you consider the ideal design which suits your machine and one you can easily obtain.

Fully assembled tumble dryer

Fully assembled tumble dryer

While still on the same subject, you also need to know that this component also uses varying power supply systems.

And that’s why it would be fundamental to first assess the power supply requirements of tumble dryer before purchasing the machine.

In general, the particular design of a tumble dryer varies from one machine to the other.

It follows that the need for tumble dryer is what determines the specific design you’ll have to choose.

Some of the needs, in this case, include quantity and speed of production.

Therefore, you’ll have to make a selection by these and many more factors when looking for suitable tumble dryer design.

· How Tumble Dryers for Softgel Work

Before I forget, you ought to know that the primary objective of the tumble dryer is to remove or reduce excess moisture from gelatin.

And this is a process which you have to undertake meticulously because of the sensitivity of the product.

In other words, I’m trying to say that you must regulate the drying process when using tumble dryers.

The working principle of a tumble dryer is relatively simple;

It happens that the softgel capsules upon encapsulation, leave the die system and get straight to the tumble dryer.

It is the conveyor belts that facilitate movement of the already encapsulated capsules to the dryer.

This equipment then tumbles the softgel capsules for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

Ordinarily, you’ll find that a standard tumble dryer has a capacity of between 1 to 6 baskets, which hold the capsules.

But on the same note, some machines have a capacity of up to 24 baskets.

It also features drying trays in tunnels which enable it to remove the excess moisture satisfactorily from the capsules.

The tumble dryers contain elements which generate heat in a regulated temperature, which helps to drain the excess moisture from capsules.

So basically, the tumble dryer acts as the first phase of the softgel drying system.

It removes about 25% of the total moisture that’s present in these capsules.

In some instances, the drying process of this product would end at this stage.

Of course, this depends on the type of gelatin and fill material ingredients.

· Technical Specifications of Tumble Dryers

Well, this is yet another vital aspect of tumble dryers that you have to know.

Technical specifications primarily refer to the key requirements that this product needs to meet regarding material and design.

Expectedly, the technical specifications of tumble dryers also vary from one model to the other depending on several factors.

Some of the vital technical specifications for tumble dryers include;

1. Material

It is pretty obvious that the material for the tumble dryer has to be resistant, robust and durable.

The conditions surrounding this equipment are somewhat harsh hence the need for a material that would offer reliability and durability.

The ideal material for this component is always stainless steel.

This material has suitable properties such as unmatched durability, high flexibility and heat resistant.

Besides, it is also resistant to corrosion which is vital given the conditions it’s subjected to during softgel drying process.

2. Baskets

These refer to the cages which hold the softgel capsules upon getting into the tumble dryer while awaiting and undergoing a drying process.

It is necessary for this component to have these cages because they enable you to determine the quantity to produce.

The baskets also allow you to know the particular speed to use in production which is essential since it affects the end-product quality.

3. Control Interface

Since soft gelatin drying is a process which requires a high level of diligence and precision, there is a need for PLC controls.

What I mean here is that it’s crucial for a tumble dryer to have a control system for regulating various parameters during drying process.

The control interface should also be user-friendly and should contain all the relevant buttons for a specific parameter.

4. Motor Power

In this case, it merely refers to the energy in the form of electricity that is used for driving the tumble dryer.

The motor power is a fundamental technical specification because it also determines the overall efficiency and performance of the component.

In most cases, the power driving the motor is dependent on the size of the motor that the dryer is using.

The bigger the motor, the faster and more efficient the dryer tumbler will be and vice versa.

5. Basket Material

Well, the material for manufacturing the basket is also an essential technical specification of this machinery.

Typically, the baskets are often subjected to relatively harsh conditions inside the tumble dryer.

It, therefore, implies that you have to go for a sturdy and highly resistant material that can endure such conditions.

In fact, there are specific brands that often produce high-quality basket material which you can select for quality service.

6. Pharmaceutical Design

What happens is that you can easily find different types of tumble dryers on the market currently.

And not all these dryers comply with the recommended pharmaceutical designs.

So eventually, you’ll realize that the efficiency and performance reduce significantly.

And FDA validated GMP design would be a suitable option. Additionally, such a plan should never feature foreign capsule traps.

7. Fan Blower

It is also essential for an ideal tumble dryer to feature powerful fan blowers.

This is mainly the component that speeds up the overall drying process of the softgel by continuously drying the basket.

The fan blower delivery should be suitable enough to ensure that faster and homogenous drying of the capsules.

Well, another important aspect to take in is the fact that tumble dryers remove quite a significant amount of moisture from softgel capsules.

However, they do not entirely dry the capsules to completion.

That’s the reason in most cases; such products are often laid out tray and placed into drying tunnels.

And it is what we want to look into as the second element of the softgel drying machine.

b) Drying Tunnels for Softgels

This is the other element of the softgel drying system.

Incidentally, the tumble dryers and drying tunnels must work in tandem if at all you want to attain desirable results.

Softgel capsules in a tunnel

Softgel capsules in a tunnel

What this implies is that you need both the drying tunnel and tumble dryers to work simultaneously for an effective drying system.

Mostly, the drying tunnels in a softgel encapsulation machine serve as the second phase of the drying process.

And so before we look much into the working principle of drying tunnels, let’s first figure out the design and configuration of this equipment.

· Design and Configuration of Drying Tunnels for Softgel

First of all, the construction of a drying tunnel for softgel should be from modular panels in stainless steel.

They should also feature a laminar flow air filtration unit that enhances better and more efficient drying of the softgel capsules.

Ideally, the design of this equipment is in such a way that allows you to operate it either continuously or batch-wise.

Again, the size of a tunnel dryer can vary depending on various factors.

Undoubtedly, one of these factors is the quantity you expect to produce within a certain time-frame.

Furthermore, this equipment also consists of a wide range of elements including electric or steam heating air.

It also consists of proper temperature and drying tunnel as well as cycling dry with heated air.

· How Drying Tunnels Work

The working principle of a drying tunnel is somewhat more or less similar whether it uses electric or steam heating air.

But ordinarily, it happens that wet solids get into the trays of the drying tunnels from the tumble dryer.

Drying tunnel

Drying tunnel

You’ll then spread the capsules on the drying trays and place them inside a drying room, also known as drying tunnel

This stage is what signals the completion of the drying process, which happens by capsules spreading on to the trays.

The trays are obviously placed in a chamber where fresh air passes through it via the inlet by the heater.

It, therefore, follows that the hot air then heats up the chamber.

The capsules then stack in a tunnel dryer, which apparently supplies air at about 20% relative humidity.

What happens next is that the dry air picks up water which circulates into the chamber of the tunnel dryer.

Fundamentally, is to know that the capsules may stay inside the drying tunnel for a couple of days.

The average duration should be anything between 2 and 3 days.

Nevertheless, depending on the specific softgel formulation, the period can last even for two weeks.

What matters, in this case, is ensuring that the softgel stays in the drying tunnel until the desired amount of moisture is removed.

By the way, you should always ensure that you design this process appropriately otherwise it can be costly.

Once this process is over, the soft gelatin capsules then become ready for ensuing steps in the encapsulation process.

· Parameters Determining Efficiency of Drying Tunnels for Softgel

The truth is that efficiency, which also determines the end-product quality is attainable only when specific parameters are under control.

Soft gelatin capsules after drying

Soft gelatin capsules after drying

And apparently, the drying tunnel is seemingly an intensive aspect of softgel drying system.

It thus implies that there are specific parameters that you have to control to attain desirable results.

These parameters are quite a number, but for the sake of this guide I’ll touch on the most fundamental ones which include;

i. Temperature and Humidity

In this case, temperature merely refers to how hot or cold is the air pressure that flows into the chamber holding the drying trays.

It is an essential aspect because it determines how fast or slows the drying trays will dry in the bid of removing softgel’s moisture.

The temperature within the drying tunnels should be moderate enough to enable softgel capsules to lose ideal moisture content.

Otherwise, if the temperature is in excess, it will dry the capsules disproportionately which in turn depletes the ingredients.

On the other hand, if the temperature is relatively low, the softgel might fail to lose sufficient moisture accordingly.

In the end, you’ll get poor quality capsules that are ineffective and have a low shelf-life.

ii. Drying Rate

This ideally refers to the speed at which the softgel capsules can dry within the drying tunnels.

In other instances, you may refer to it as a rate of air flow within drying tunnel system.

This parameter is significant because it allows you to understand the specific amount of capsules that you can process at a time.

The other significance of this parameter is that it makes it possible for you to determine the time taken for ideal brittleness and shell hardening.

You see, it simply implies that drying rate within the drying tunnel is additionally vital in the sense of determining overall quality.

It follows that in case you fail to understand the drying rate, it becomes difficult to evaluate the quality of the final product.

iii. Drying Time

Now, this refers specifically to the period it takes for the softgel capsules to lose all desirable moisture before moving to next stage.

Of course, the drying time of these products varies depending on machines as well as the softgel ingredients and materials.

Some would take an average of two to three days whereas other would take up to 14 days to dry satisfactorily.

This parameter is vital because it allows you to understand the ideal levels you require the product to reach.

And for that reason, it becomes one of the fundamental aspects to control in the softgel drying system.

Well, as I conclude this section, I’d like you to take note of another vital aspect regarding both tumble dryer and drying tunnels.

You see, both of them are effective means of drying softgel capsules.

However, they’re not the most favorable techniques for all companies.

The time-frame in some instances may seem to be comparatively long.

Therefore, some manufacturers tend to opt for quicker drying processes.

And speaking of faster drying process, one of the preferable options at the moment is the use of in-line dryers.

So let’s discuss it briefly to get a basic idea of what it entails.

c) In-line Dryers in Softgel Manufacturing Process

In-line dryers are essentially the drying system which provides a comparatively fast and efficient drying softgel drying mechanism.

Arguably, it is the fastest means of producing softgel capsules without necessarily increasing margin error or compromising quality.

Continous drying for softgel

Continuous drying for softgel

One fundamental aspect of in-line dryers is that the speed is dependent on the ability of your equipment to handle high volume demand.

Moreover, it also depends on your ability as an operator to keep up.

And because that’s not enough, let’s dissect this equipment further and figure out various elements regarding the same.

· Why Use In-line Dryers for Softgel

Firstly, the obvious reason is to enable you tospeed up your production process.

Using this means enables you to have your finished product within the shortest period rather than waiting for days.

Another reason is to increase the production capacity.

You see, it is quite evident that rapid production translates to higher output capacity.

So ultimately, you’ll be able to realize high turnover as a result of more output in regards to production.

And finally, you also need to use in-line dryers as a way of cutting overall production cost.

Listen, if you’re manufacturing large-scalesoftgel capsules, you probably know how costly the entire process could be.

It follows that should you choose to use this equipment then, in the long run, you’ll save a considerable amount of money.

The only tricky part is the initial purchasing price of this equipment which is seemingly pricey.

· Softgel In-line Dryer Working Principle

What happens is that an in-line dryer is essentially a one-piece unit which rapidly dries the already encapsulated softgel capsules.

This equipment applies a continuous drying system.

It merely means that your soft gelatin capsules go straight away from the encapsulation machine into the drying system.

And by the time you get them out of this equipment, they’ll be entirely dry ready for packaging.

Fundamentally, this whole process is a breeze and ideal for oil-based softgel capsules.

· Softgel In-line Dryers Specifications

When in the market shopping for an in-line dryer, it is vital first to know the specifications.

This will enable you to acquire particular equipment that solves your softgel drying needs.

Different shapes of soft gelatin capsules

Different shapes of soft gelatin capsules

Let me take you through a few key specifications which you must always look into;

i. Control Panel

The in-line dryers is a hi-tech machine. It thus implies that controlling all its parameters requires an integrated interface which guarantees efficiency.

So in other words, it’s always necessary to ensure that you go for a unit with the clear and user-friendly control panel.

ii. Durable Construction and Material

the truth is that an in-line dryer tends to perform quite an intensive task under harsh conditions.

For that reason, the materials for manufacturing it has to be sturdy, preferably made of high-quality stainless steel.

iii. Universal Construction

The essence of this specification is ideally to facilitate easy maintenance irrespective of your location.

You realize that it becomes easy to repair, replace parts and maintain this machine especially if its construction is relatively straightforward.

iv. Production Capacity

The purpose of having an in-line dryer is to enhance production speed and capacity.

It thus means that you’ll merely have to go for a unit that can handle large quantity within the shortest time possible.

Nonetheless, the high production capacity should also yield quality end-products.

v. Motor

It should also have a sizeable motor that can power it appropriately depending on the quantity of capsules it processes at a time.

Softgel Tray Drying vs Continuous Drying – An Ultimate Comparison

The best part when it comes to softgel drying is that you’ll always have two alternatives to choose from.

Definitely, I know you’d want to go for the relatively efficient process or method.

But the truth is that any type of softgel drying method is suitable depending on the particular aspects surrounding the product.

Primarily, there are two major means of drying softgel capsules, which are Tray drying and Continuous drying.

· Tray Drying

Tray drying just as the name suggests uses trays, also known as dry pill disks.

These trays are made of quality high-grade materials and stacked on a movable stainless steel trolley within the dryer.

Drying tray

Drying tray

In tray drying, the softgel capsules emerge from the tumble dryers after the first phase of drying.

After that, the softgel capsules are then placed on some lining drying trays.

What happens next is that the trays are then arranged on trolleys and pushed into the drying tunnels.

The tray drying method is common in processing multiple products.

· Continuous Drying

This is also the other popular means of drying softgel capsules.

It happens that this method uses several tumble dryers, which are also relatively large.

Continous drying system

Continuous drying system

In this method, the softgel capsules tend to take quite a long time in the dryers before they fully become dry accordingly.

The major difference between tray and continuous drying is that the latter is common for processing single products.

This, of course, comes about as a result of the many trays which the former method has as opposed to the continuous softgel drying method.

Key Consideration when Buying Drying Systems for Softgels

So far, we’ve seen some of the key elements revolving around different aspects of drying systems for softgels.

Now though, I want also to discuss a few essentials that you ought to consider whenever you’re shopping for these systems.

Soft encapsulation machine with tumble dryer

Softgel encapsulation machine with tumble dryer

 i. Equipment Speed

It’s the equipment speed that determines the output capacity of the manufacturing process.

The speed, in this case, is defined by the rotations per minute (RPM) that the machine makes.

When considering speed, ensure that it also matches with that of the encapsulation machine.

A faster machine is essential because it also helps to detect and produce defective capsules.

And eventually, it enhances the quality of the final product.

ii. Versatility of the Equipment

It would be a wise investment decision if you choose to buy a softgel drying machine that comes with other auxiliary components.

This, in a significantway, allows you to carry out other related or ensuing tasks such as sorting and polishing the capsules.

Eventually, it enables you to enhance the production process while and at the same time cutting on cost.

iii. Gelatin Formulation

It is also important to ensure that you determine the preferable drying process depending on the type of capsule you want to dry.

What I mean here is that if your capsule is oil-based, then an in-line dryer would be a better alternative.

It involves continuous drying system which is rather faster.

And if your capsules are not necessarily oil-based, then the ideal options would be a tumble dryer and drying tunnel systems.

iv. Equipment Quality

Incidentally, you have to acquire nothing short of high-quality drying systems if you want to attain best softgel products.

In fact, the quality of the machine has a direct impact on the overall process and the final product.

For that reason, ensure that you invest in a superior quality softgel drying machine.

SaintyCo Softgel Manufacturing Equipment

Well, from this entire guide, the most confusing bit would be on where to purchase the right softgel drying machine for your needs.

Let me give you an idea of where to get one without necessarily breaking a sweat.

SaintyCo is one of the leading manufacturers to seek all your softgel drying machines from.

This company has a proven record in producing a wide range of high-quality machines that would definitely suit your needs.

So if you’re looking for suitable drying systems whether, for small or large scale production, we have your answer at SaintyCo Softgel Manufacturing Equipment Line.


Of course, the highlight of this guide is basically to inform you of how important drying systems are in softgel production.

But the most fundamental aspect to note is the need of buying a high-quality machine from a reputable manufacturer.

At SaintyCo, you can never run short of an ideal softgel drying machine that meets your needs.

And in case you have any inquiries or any related concern, feel free to contact us today.

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