Capsules offer a reliable and efficient packaging solution in the pharmaceutical industries. They are made from different materials that are available in varying sizes depending on the packaging requirements.

A capsule is a small case (cylindrical in shape) that encloses medicines or other products. Its content can be in the form of powder, liquids, pellets, tablets or a mixture of any two products.

In this guide, I will explore the various types of capsules you can use in a fully automatic capsule filling machine. But first, let’s review the structure of a joined and separated capsule as shown in the image below:

This is the basic structure of an open and closed capsule

With all these in mind, let’s now focus on other key aspects of capsules you can use in an automatic capsule filling machine.

Advantages of Capsules in Fully Automatic Capsule Filling Machine

In the modern pharmaceutical industries capsules have become popular to an extent that even some tablets are administered in capsules. This is because capsules are:

  • Tasteless and odorless thus, making them easy to administer
  • Easy to carry and handle
  • Cost effective
  • Can hold a wide range of products such as powder, pellets or liquids.
  • Easy and convenient to fill

However, it is worth noting that capsules are not suitable for hygroscopic products and concentrated solutions may require further processing.

Depending on the type of fill material, you need to choose a suitable type of capsule. A reason why you need to learn about the types of capsules.

Types of Capsules

To meet the dynamic demands and safety requirements in the pharmaceutical industries, the two main types of capsules that are commonly use include:

  • Soft gelatin capsules
  • Hard gelatin capsules

From the above, you can see that these products are made of gelatin. So, what is a gelatin?

This is product from animal’s collagen. Its main sources may include a hide portion, pork skin or animal bones.

A number of manufacturers use hydrolytic extraction method to obtain this useful component of capsules. During the extraction process, they can obtain either gelatin type A or B.

In the next sections, I will explain the key aspects about these two types of capsules. Let’s start with the:

Basic Facts about Soft Gelatin Capsules

Soft gelatin capsule or softgel is manufactured from a single material as shown in the image below (they are in one piece).

A soft gelatin capsule

Both filling and manufacturing of the soft gelatin capsules takes place simultaneously. This is not the case with the hard gelatin capsules (you’ll learn about it shortly).

The softgel are suitable for non-aqueous solutions and they are known to melt within a few minutes in the stomach. They are made from gelatin, opacifying agents, preservatives, coloring and plasticizers.

These capsules are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes such as round, oval, or tube. To produce these products, manufacturers can adopt a rotary die or reciprocating die process.

As you can see, filling these capsules is a challenging process, unlike the case for the hard gelatin capsules as you’ll learn shortly.

Basic Facts about Hard Gelatin Capsules

Hard gelatin capsule is commonly used with fully automatic capsule filling machines. They are easier to fill and you can adapt to nearly all capsule filling applications.

This may include filling powder, pellets, tablets or a mixture of the three. Below is an image of a hard gelatin capsule:

A hard gelatin capsule

As you can see, this capsule has two parts. That is, the body that contains the product and cap that seals the content.

In most cases, you’ll find that their body and cap have different colors. In our case, the body is white, while its cap is green. Others may be white/blue, yellow/red, red/white, etc.

Normally, the body section of the capsule is filled with the desired content, after which the cap locks it by pressing it. A reason why you can use it with a fully automatic capsule filling machine.

Alternatively, you may opt for a manual capsule filling machine or semi-automatic capsule filling machine.

In most cases, these capsules take about 3 minutes to disintegrate to release their content.

The manufacturing process of hard gelatin capsule involve: dipping, spinning, drying, stripping, trimming, joining and polishing.

Hard Gelatin Capsules vs. Soft Gelatin Capsules

So, which of the two should you go for?

Well, this will depend on the type of capsule filling equipment and content you would like to fill. However, for the case of fully automatic capsule filling machine, you need a hard gelatin capsule.

May be, you can watch this automatic capsule filling machine video to understand why I insist on this. Meanwhile, let’s compare these two products:

Hard Gelatin CapsuleSoft Gelatin Capsule
Two pieces with short cap and large bodyA single piece that is always sealed
Cylindrical shapeExist in different shapes such oval, tube, etc.
Available in different standards sizes as shown belowNo specific sizes
Made from hard gelatinMade from soft gelatin
Can hold a range of products such as pellets, tablets, powder or a mixture of any two.Holds liquids, semi liquids and unstable substances
Filling is done after manufacturing the capsuleFilling and sealing takes place in a combined operation

Now, let’s review the last essential feature of capsule you can use with fully automatic capsule filling machine.

Sizes of Capsule to Use in Fully Automatic Capsule Filling Machine

Hard gelatin capsules are available in a wide range of sizes and configuration. The table below shows all the different sizes of capsules:

The different sizes of capsule sizes

You can use this table to choose the right capsule for your unique application.

Conclusion

Whenever you’re planning to choose a capsule for use in any encapsulation process, it is important to consider both their size, design and type of material. With these in mind, you’ll get the right packing solution for any pharmaceutical industry.

Also, don’t hesitate to contact us in case you find it difficult to choose the right capsule for your encapsulating applications.