Soft Gel Drying: Step by Step Guide

Do you know the soft gel drying process adds value to your capsule making process?

And, yes, that’s a fact.

Because when the capsules leave the Softgel encapsulation machine, they have a “weak capsule shell”.

The good news:

Today’s guide will focus on the soft gel drying process.

It covers every detail about tumble dryers, try drying, continuous drying, drying tunnels, etc.

Let’s get to business…

Step 1: The Use of Tumble Dryers in Soft Gel Drying Process

Do you know how a tumble dryer for Softgel capsules looks like?

Well, here it is:

Soft gel encapsulation machine with a tumble dryer

 Softgel encapsulation machine with a tumble dryer

When you detach tumble dryer from the machine, it looks like this:


In most processes, the Softgel encapsulation machine is attached to the tumble dryer via a conveyor belt.

This implies, when the Softgel capsules leave the machine, they move directly to the tumble dryer.

Now, what really happens here?

Let’s find out:

As you can see, a tumble dryer is a cylindrical container.

The design is such that it rotates continuously in a constant motion to dry soft gel capsules.

In most cases, Softgel encapsulation machine manufacturers add a tumble dryer as a support equipment.

The rotating motion makes tumble dryers more efficient in a soft gel drying process.

Of course, it has small “plates”, protruding from the central rotating bar, for an efficient and even drying process.

From experience, this is an efficient and cost-effective way of drying soft gel capsules as soon as they leave the encapsulation machine.

Working Principle of a Tumble Dryer

The main aim of a tumble dryer is to remove moisture as soon as Softgel capsules leave the encapsulation machine.

Here is what happens.

You can feed the soft gelatin capsules as the tumble dryer rotates or when in a stationary position.

Once the tumble dryer reaches its capacity, it will begin to rotate at a constant speed.

At the same time, the tumble dryer will supply a sufficient amount of heat through the fan blower system.

Implying, as the tumble dryer system rotates, it supplies warm air.

It is the warm air that helps to remove moisture from the Softgel capsules.

At the same time, moisture from the gelatin will exit the tumble dryer.

Under normal circumstances, this process will continue for about 30 to 40 minutes.

The good news?

On average, tumble dryers remove about 23% to 27% of moisture from soft gelatin capsules.

Depending on product requirements, you can end process here, or dry it further using the procedures you will learn shortly

Again, before buying any tumble dryer, you need to consider the following:

  • Brand or manufacturer of the tumble dryer
  • Number of baskets
  • Material
  • Power consumption
  • Compatibility with the existing Softgel machine systems

In a nutshell, using a tumble dryer is the very fast step in soft gel drying process.

Please, don’t get me wrong here:

Depending on the Softgel capsules manufacturing process, you can go for:

  1. Tumble dryers then use drying tray or,
  2. Tumble dryers without the need for drying trays

Let’s expound on the use of tumble dryers without the need for drying trays (b).

Well, this process is what we call continuous soft gel drying process.

First, you will need larger tumble dryers.

Second, the soft gel capsules will remain in the tumble dryers for a long time.

Implying, the time will depend on the amount of moisture you want to remove from Softgel capsules.

Third, it is a perfect process for single product manufacturing process.

Now, let’s expand more on the use of tumble dryers and drying trays.

Let’s move to step 2 of the soft gel drying process.

Step 2: Soft Gel Drying Process with Drying Trays

These are simple trays as you can see in the image below:

Drying trays for soft gel

Drying tray for soft gel

Now, in case you opt for option (a) in step 1 above, you will need drying trays.

Therefore, it implies that once your soft gel capsules leave the tumble dryer, you’ll empty them in drying trays.

What’s unique here?

Let’s find out.

Using tray drying method is yet another process that you need to follow cautiously.

The best part?

During soft gel drying process with trays, you’ll remove significaa nt amount of moisture.

The drying trays are not just the ordinary types you will get in the market.

The internal lining of these drying trays is made of paper for and effective and efficient drying process.

Once you have the Softgel capsules in drying trays, you will push them into the drying tunnels.

I know that is a little confusing now – but I will explain.

What is a Drying Tunnel in Soft Gel Drying Process

Once you have all the trays with soft gel ready, carefully slide them into a drying tunnel.

A drying tunnel is a “room” like structure with carefully controlled humidity and temperature levels.

It helps to remove moisture from Soft gelatin capsules without interfering with the basic constituents.

Here is a good example of a drying tunnel:

Drying tunnel

Drying tunnel

The design configuration of the drying tunnel should be such that it:

  • Allows efficient flow of air for even and fast drying
  • Easy to control all environmental conditions for uneven drying
  • Allows for batch and continuous operation

Therefore, before you design a drying tunnel for soft gel, you need to consider the following:

i. Temperature

ii. Humidity

iii. Soft gel drying rate

And of course, the working principle is straight forward.

  • Place all your soft gelatin capsules (in the drying tray) within the tunnel
  • Set operation parameters of the drying tunnel
  • Fresh air will pass freely from the inlet heater
  • Air warms the chamber (the system supplies air at 20% relative humidity)

In short, the duration of the soft gel drying process will depend on the formulation of soft gelatin capsules.

Now, let me make it simple for you to understand.

In any soft gel drying step by step process, you need two things:

  1. Tumble dryers which mark the first stage in the soft gel drying process
  2. Quality drying trays that you will use in the drying chamber

With these, you will obviously manufacture high quality soft gelatin capsules.

Soft gelatin capsules

Soft gelatin capsules

Here at SaintyCo, we design and make high quality Softgel encapsulation machines and soft gel support equipment.

Our machines are carefully designed, adhering to strict quality control and cGMP standards.

For all your needs in soft gelatin encapsulation process, SaintyCo is here to help.


Clearly, soft gel drying process involves two main steps – tumbler drying and tray drying using a drying channel.

However, to achieve this, you need high quality and reliable equipment.

Also, you need a clear understanding of the Softgel content and ingredients.

But still, if you have any questions about soft gel drying process, feel free to ask our team.

Our team is here to help you.

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