Film Coating Machine Buying Guide for Beginners & Professionals in Pharmaceutical Industry

Film Coating Machine Buying Guide

Any successful pharmaceutical company must invest in high quality tablet compression, film coating and tablet deduster machines.

Without any of these machines, your attempts to achieve high ROI will all be futile.

As part of the process, as soon as the tables exit a discharge chute of a tableting machine, there are other procedures they must go through before packaging.

In my previous post, I had a comprehensive case study on tablet deduster machine.

You can spare some 5 minutes to go through this post, it is very important.

Today, I want to discuss film coating machine.

But more importantly, my main focus will be on film coating machine buying guide.

Keep reading to learn how to buy a high quality film coating machine.

Film Coating Machine Buying Guide - A fully assembled tablet coating machine
A full assembly of tablet coating machine

1. Definition of Film Coating Machine

This is a pharmaceutical machine that adds a thin outer layer on fully compressed tablets.

The film coating is in the form of a thin polymer-based coating.

Film coating machines come in a wide range of shapes and designs depending on your specific application requirements.

You’ll learn more about this when I will be discussing types of tablet coating machines later in this article.

Meanwhile, you can watch this video to get a clear picture of this machine.

It shows critical sections and components, which I will also discuss later in this article.

Again, unlike the previous tablet coating systems, the new film coating machines have simple and easy to control working mechanism.

I’ll also explain this in point No. 4.

Normally, with film coating equipment, you can use either organic solvents or water.

This will depend on the specific properties you want the fully processed tablets to possess.

Remember, film coating technology gives pharmaceutical industries a rare opportunity of modifying properties of tablets.

By doing so, the tablets can be stable or be protected from external environments that may alter their basic chemical composition.

Even though there are standard film coating equipment, you can opt for customized designs as long as they are cGMP compliant.

The modern designs are such that you can precisely control:

  • Inlet air humidity and temperature
  • Rate of inlet airflow and its quality
  • Exhaust air flow
  • Flow rate and quality of coating liquid, among other vital parameters.

All these are possible with the modern and fully integrated PLC and automatic systems.

Having said that, let’s now move to another important stage of this film coating machine buying guide.

Basically, you will learn why opting for film coating machine is a better option as opposed to other tablet coating processes.

I will make it short and easy for you to understand.

2. Why Do You Need Film Coating Systems

Honestly, it is important to know why you need film coating systems.

With this, you can evaluate your tablet compression process to make a wise and objective decision.

Let me take you straight to the point:

There are many types of tablet coating processes.

However, before I focus on these processes, let first highlight the reasons why you should coat tablets.

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Coat Tablets

It is not economical to coat tablets just for the sake of it.

This will not make any economic sense.

Film coated tablets
Film coated tablets

Here are reasons why you should consider coating tablet after any compression process:

  • Improve appearance
  • Cover unpleasant taste, color or odor
  • Prevent degradation of chemical composition of the tablets. There are certain chemicals that react/degrade on exposure to moisture, ultra-violet light or air.
  • For easy identification
  • Make blistering easy
  • Control drug release, amongst others.

Therefore, depending on your unique specific objectives, it is important to choose a reliable and effective tablet coating process.

Types of Tablet Coating Processes

For the scope of this film coating machine buying guide, I will not go into details of each tablet coating process.

However, I will only mention each process, with a brief description.

A film tablet coating machine
This is a section of film tablet coating machine

I hope this will be handy as it gives an overview of the processes in the tablet compression industry.

With that in mind, let me list the main tablet coating processes:

  • Film tablet coating; it is currently the most popular due to its effectiveness and cost saving process. The process involves spraying tablets with a thin, uniform polymer formulation.

Don’t worry, you will learn more about this process as I discuss other aspects of film coating machine.

  • Sugar coating; this is the process of coating bitter (unpleasant smell) tablet with a sugar coating. The coating is soft with a dense color.
  • Enteric coating; it is a process suitable for tablets that must be absorbed in the small intestine. The coating can withstand stomach acid.
  • Compression coating; the process is suitable for modified release drugs. The process involves compacting powder/granules in a preformed core using a special machine.

With this knowledge, we can comfortably proceed to the next section.

Why Should You Opt for Film Tablet Coating?

Film tablet coating is popular due to the many benefits the process offers.

Here are key facts why you need a film coating machine.

Overall Appearance of the Tablets

First, you should know that with film coating machine, the final tablet may have a logo or break line.

Besides, it retains the original contour and it’s not as shinny as those from sugar coating processes.

Second, the process produces lightweight tablets when you compare them to sugar coating technology.

The final tablet has an extra weight of 2 to 3%, unlike those from sugar coating that weigh 30 to 50% more.

Now you can see why in this film coating machine guide, I confidently recommend the equipment to any pharmaceutical industry.

General Tablet Coating Process

I know one thing that runs in your mind is how to accomplish the entire process of tablet coating technology.

Well, here is the good news.

One, it is easier to automate most of the processes of the film coating machine.

You will learn more about this in point No. 3 ( the basic parts and components of a film tablet coating).

Two, with the automated system, you don’t need a thorough operator training.

You can easily adapt it to the existing tablet compression system.

Again, complying with the CGMP requirements is easy hence, eliminating any possible incompatibility issues.

In short, as you read this film coating machine buying guide, it is quite evident that this equipment is efficient and cost effective.

This is why you need to substitute it with the sugar coating machines.

Now, I want to take you through another critical aspect of this film coating machine buying guide.

This section will help you to assess and evaluate the tablet coating machine like an expert.

Here is what I am talking about:

3. Basic Parts & Components of Film Coating Machine

A film coating machine is an assembly of many parts and components.

Depending on the size, functionality and model of the tablet coating equipment, the number of parts may vary broadly.

So, first, even before you think of buying film coating machines, it is important to access its manual or brochure.

You can download these documents for free.

Alternatively, if you can’t find one, simply go to contact us section and request for a brochure/manual or any other document that outlines the machine specifications.

Now, let’s explore the basic parts and components of film coating machine:

Automated Control System

Earlier in this film coating machine guide, I did mention that technological advancements increase accuracy and consistency.

PLC control system for film coating machine
A section of the control systems of film coating machine.

Well, this is evident in most machines in the market that feature microprocessor based programmable control system.

As a result, your machine can automatically control:

  • Selection of running/operation state
  • Various parameters such as speed, temperature and negative pressure
  • Recording and printing working state of the machine
  • Displaying of process data
  • Spraying gun and atomization

In short, whenever you’re shopping for a new tablet coating machine, it is important to consider the type of technology.

With this, it is easier to optimize all operations of the machine, while ensuring maximum safety standards.

Electric Motors

To perform various operations such as creating negative pressure, blowing air, mixing tablets, etc., the tablet coating machines have different types and sizes of electric motors.

An electric motor driving machine components
Above is a blue electric motor driving various components of the tablet coating machine.

For instance, in film coating machines, we have electric motors in the following key sections:

  • Peristalsis pump
  • Hot air equipment
  • Air exhaust section
  • Coating drum

Remember, these are not the only sections.

A single machine can have more than three motors, depending on its complexity and design.

Again, at any given time, you must know the rating of the motor.

This is because it will determine the energy consumption and hence the cost of coating tablets.

Touch Screen Operation Panel

This is part of the technological advancements in the modern tablet coating machines.

It provides a user-friendly human machine interface (HMI).

HMI for tablet coating machine
The arrow shows a touch screen HMI for a tablet coating machie

In most designs, the HMI is fully enclosed and allows for easy and seamless operation of the film tablet coating machine.

Guide Plate

It is quite evident from this film coating machine buying guide that this process involves mixing tablets with the right solution.

Besides, the drying process requires that hot air blowing through each tablet.

I know this may seem to be a complex process, especially if you’re new to film tablet coating technology.

To achieve this, the film coating system features an agitator of streamline guide plate.

This allows all tablets to tumble smoothly.

During the process, tablets collide with the solvent from the spraying nozzle while preventing possible breakage or chipping.

Internal struscture of tablet coating drum
This is a internal structure of tablet coating drum.

Moreover, the narrow surface of the guide plate prevents possible adhesion of the coating material.

Peristaltic Pump

Quite a number of modern film coating systems have peristaltic pumps.

These pumps guarantee the following unique features:

  • Constant pressure variable thereby eliminating the use of return pipes
  • Ability to stabilize atomization by making spray system simple and easy to automate
This is a peristaltic pump
A peristaltic pump

Spraying System

One element that is quite evident in this film coating buying guide is the overall simplicity of the equipment.

Spraying guns for tablet film coating machine
3 sets of spraying guns

The spraying section, which includes the tank, nozzle and pumps have a simple design.

So, it is easier to conduct the following:

  • Clean and maintain the spraying gun
  • Stabilize atomization
  • Prevent plugging-up of the spraying gun
  • Saves tablet coating solution
  • Efficient and even atomization with a large coverage of spraying
  • Universally adjustable head for easy adaptability

I will not lie to you:

These benefits only come with the new generation of film coating machines.

Spraying gun
A single tablet coating solution spraying gun.

You should remember that the spraying system is the heart of a film coating machine.

Without proper control, it may lead to wastage of the coating substrate.

Pan Cooling Surface

With a pan cooling surface, you can coat special products, making it a versatile machine currently available in the market.

Connectors, air pipe and discharging device

Remember, the pan cooling surface may have an automatic load cell system.

This will help to monitor the amount of spraying solution.

Other parts include:

Frankly, this machine has so many parts (large and small) and I may not cover each and every component in this guide.

In addition to those highlighted above, others include:

  • Air distributing device
  • Components forming the internal structure of the drum
  • Electronic pulse valve
  • Air heating unit
  • Magnetic stirrer
  • Drum filter Movable holder
  • Air pipes and fittings
  • Exhaust dust collector
  • Discharging device

You can learn more about this by downloading the product manual.

For now, let me say this:

It is important to note that film coating machines in the market today have the following 5 main sections:

  • Exhaust; hot air that dries the coated powder leaves the system though this section. At this point, it has significant temperature drop.
  • Electric control system; it controls all electrical and electronic components. This may include heating elements, motors, electrical switches, etc.
  • Film coating machine; this is where the coating and drying of tablets takes place. The system seamlessly integrates with modern control systems to ensure accuracy and efficiency.
  • Coating preparation tank; this is where you will prepare the coating substrate. The system pump will then direct it to the spraying nozzle in the film coating machine.
  • Clean air circulation; it receives air from the external environment. It induces appropriate amount of heat into the air, before blowing it over the coated tablets.

You can summarize all these as shown in the image below:

parts and components of a film tablet coating machine
A summary of different components of film tablet coating machines.

Now that you know some of the main components of the film coating system, it will be easier for you to understand the working principle.

Let’s now summarize how a film coating machine works.

For sure, it will not be realistic to buy a machine that you don’t even understand how it works.

4. Working Principle of Film Coating Equipment

I know this is what you’ve been waiting for, right?

But, before I explain the working principle of film coating machine, let’s review an important segment of this pharmaceutical equipment.

This is the:

Technical Specification of Film Coating Machine

A technical specification of the machine highlights all operational parameters of a film coating machine.

As I stated earlier in this film coating machine buying guide, you have the option of buying standard or custom design.

In all these scenarios, you will still depend on the technical specifications.

So, for the purpose of this film coating machine buying guide, I will give an example of SaintyCo VBG Series Film Coating Machine.

Technical aspecification of film coating machine
This is an example of a technical specification of a film coating machine

As you can see, we have the VGB-40E to VGB-600E series.

You can see clearly how various parameters vary depending on the machine model.

Again, I want to mention that, the number of technical specifications will depend on the specific design and capability of the film coating machine.

Besides, these technical specifications will determine your material processing needs.

For instance, you can consider the capacities or coating pan diameters of the VGB-40E and VGB-600E.

Can you see the difference?

You can compare each of the machine models to get a clear picture of what I am saying.

Now, let’s have a quick overview of how a film coating machine works.

The Working Principle of a Tablet Film Coating Machine

In my point No. 1 of this film coating machine buying guide, I did mention that the main role of this pharmaceutical equipment is to add a small external layer on tablets.

So, how can you achieve this?

Let me state clearly that the working principle of tablet film coating equipment is simple.

It involves these three main stages:

  • Subject compressed tablets to a relative motion in a drum/column
  • Apply a coating solvent at the drum rotates
  • Use current of hot air to dry the coated tablets

It is that simple.

Now, let me go straight to the nitty-gritty of the tablet coating process.

Step 1:

You need to choose a suitable tablet coating machine based on the technical manual.

You can then install it as per the tablet coating machine manufacturer’s manual/instructions.

All our machines come with an easy to understand manual with most parts fully assembled.

Step 2:

Put all tablets in a closed drum and allow it to rotate in an orbital manner.

This should be a continuous process where streamlined plate will influence most operations.

Film tablet coating machine
A section of a tablet coating drum

Step 3:

As it rotates, the nozzle will begin to spray the tablets with a coating solution.

This is an automatic process that the PLC systems precisely controls to prevent excess coating.

Spraying nozzle of film coating machine
Atomized coating solution from spraying nozzles

The angled baffles within the drum cause tablets to turn from side to side smoothly without causing any damage.

This exposes every part of the tablet to the coating solvent.

Step 4:

While the spraying and rotation process is still on, the machine introduces a stream of hot air into the drum.

This causes rapid coating of the solvent.

The design of the machine is such that it regulates the temperature of the hot air.

This is to ensure that it does not affect the chemical properties of the tablets and coating solvent.

Again, the system also regulates the drums pressure relative to the external environment.

All these actions aim to produce an even coating on the tables.

After all the tablets are fully coated and coating solvent is dry, it will automatically stop and you can proceed to the next process.

Clearly, this is a simple process.

With all these in mind, now let me take you through yet another critical aspect:

5. Types of Film Coating Machines

I know there are many types of film coating machines for a wide range of tablet manufacturing processes.

However, for the scope of the film coating machine buying guide, I will limit the discussion to three types of accessories.

A simple and comprehensive fFilm coating machine buying guide
A fully assembled tablet coating machine

This will be based on the 3 main principles and they include:

Standard Coating Pan

As the name suggests, this machine has a circular metal pan.

Depending on the unique tablet coating processes, its diameter may range from 15 to 200 cm.

In these machines, the pan is set into a rotary motion after loading the tablets.

This motion causes the tablets to tumble.

As the tablets tumble on the pan, you can add the coating solution through a nozzle.

The nozzle accurately atomizes the solution resulting in thin and even coating.

With the tablets fully coated, you can dry them using an immersion sword, baffled pan and diffuser or immersion tube system.

Fluidized Bed System

This system consists of a vertical column.

When you switch on the machine, a stream of air flowing upwards will blow the tablets.

This forces tablets to float in the air as they move upwards and outwards, hence the column is said to be fluidized.

With the tablets suspended in the air, the spray nozzles that are located either at the top or bottom introduces the coating solution.

At the same time, the machine introduces a stream of hot air that dries the coating on the tablets.

This process is not common since during the fluidization process, the system subjects the tablets to high rate of collision.

Besides, the tablets may hit the chamber walls.

As a result, this could break the tablets or cause chipping.

Perforated Pan

This system resembles the standard coating pan.

However, it may have either fully or partially perforated drum that rotates in a horizontal axis.

Again, here, as the drum rotates, tablets begin to tumble thereby exposing all sides to the coating solution.

Normally, the spray nozzles are within the drum.

After coating the tablets, the hot air that causes drying effect passes through the tablets and leaves the system through the perforations.

Still, in the three scenarios, the working principle of the tablet coating process still remains the same:

  • Setting tablets in motion
  • Applying coating solution using a spray nozzle
  • Drying tablets after coating

At this juncture, I believe you have learned quite a lot from this film coating machine buying guide.

But, before I conclude, let me take you through a brief process of buying tablet coating machine.

6. Where to Buy Film Coating Equipment

I will not lie to you:

Buying tablet coating machine from a reputable and trusted company with vast experience is a sure way of getting value for your money.

I can assure you, here at SaintyCo, we combine the European, American and our patented technologies to design and manufacture high quality and reliable film coating machines.

Currently, SaintyCo has 4 series of tablet coating machines:

  • SaintyCo Tablet Coating Machine
  • SGY Series Coating Pan
  • VGB-E Series Film Coating Machine
  • VGB-F Lab Tablet Coating

They come in different models with custom designs available upon request.


Throughout this film coating machine buying guide, it is quite clear that you need a comprehensive understanding of the machine itself and the task at hand.

With this information, you can choose a tablet coating machine that meets specific pharmaceutical or R&D requirements.

You need to take your time to evaluate the machine.

This is the only way your effort will pay off.

For any questions or inquiries, you can contact us for free consultations.

Again, in case you want to learn more about tablet coating technology, here are some links to existing studies and research work.

Now It’s your turn , download below PDF to learn Saintyco Film coating machine ,and let me know ,if you understand each series.

film coating machine PDF

Further Reading

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