We use different medicines daily, from paracetamol tablets for the pain to beta-blockers for blood pressure. But have you ever wondered how these tablets are made?
Making a pharmaceutical tablet is a challenging process. You must combine the active medicinal ingredient in the correct dosage with other necessary materials and press it into a tablet. A pharmaceutical tablet press machine does this process.
In this article, we’ll discuss these machines in detail for beginners and professionals alike.
How Are Tablets Industrially Compressed Using Machines?
Tablet manufacturing involves combining and compressing powdered and granular medicine into tablets of required shapes and sizes. A pharmaceutical tablet press machine performs this process rapidly using three main parts.
The first part is the hopper, where you add the unprocessed medicine. The hopper releases the medicine to a feeder, which lets it pass to the compression mechanism in a controlled flow. The tablet compression process has an upper and a lower punch. When they move together, they press the medicine present in the space between them into a tablet.
After this, you send the tablet to a tablet coating machine, which costs the tablet with different compounds to make it better looking, tasting, or more stable. For example, you can coat it with chemicals that would delay its absorbance in the intestines, increasing its effect. You may also have to use a tablet deduster machine to remove dust from your product’s surface.
Tablet Press Machine vs. Capsule Filling Machine
Whereas compressed tablets are made by press machines, capsules are manufactured by capsule filler machines.
A capsule-filling machine is slower than a tablet press but is suitable for preparing medicines that heat or moisture quickly destroys. The capsule is made of gelatin or cellulose, which protects the content from environmental conditions, and has two halves. The capsule-filling machine opens the two halves, fills the bottom half with the medicine, and seals the two halves together.
Using a capsule filler or a tablet press depends on the medicine’s dosage and sensitivity. If you require precision and consistent dosage, go for pharmaceutical tablets. If the medicine is sensitive and the environment can damage it, protect it using a capsule.
What Can You Manufacture Using Tablet Press Machines?
Here are a few common applications of these machines.
1. Pharmaceutical Tablets
A pharmaceutical tablet is one way to take solid medicine orally. It is also called a pill. Standard pharmaceutical tablets may be antibiotics, anti-allergens, etc.
A pharmaceutical tablet includes the active ingredient and some other ingredients that stabilize the active ingredient. These ingredients are called excipients. For example, stearic acid is added as a lubricant in such tablets as the mixture is too dry to be pressed without it.
2. Nutraceutical Tablets
You can use a pill press machine to make nutraceutical tablets too. These are food products that you can use for health benefits.
3. Cosmetics Tablets
You can use a tablet press to make cosmetic tablets. These tablets are used for cosmetic purposes; for example, vitamin C tablets can clear skin, and collagen tablets can improve hair integrity and remove wrinkles.
4. Industrial Tablets
Tablets are commonly used in other industries. For instance, fertilizer tablets in the agricultural industry contain nitrogen and phosphorus. You can also make detergent tablets containing enzymes, bleach, and surfactant that are more effective at cleaning clothes.
The Kinds of Tablet Press Machines Available
These machines come in various types, for example:
1. The Single Punch Machine
This machine has only one mobile punch to compress a tablet. Its tablet compression technology consists of two punches, but the lower punch stays stationary while the upper punch moves and provides the compression force.
These machines are cost-effective as they require only one functional punch and are easy to operate. They are smaller and take up less space which is advantageous for production areas with less space.
However, they can only produce a few hundred tablets per hour, far less than other pharmaceutical tablet press machines. They also have less compression force. You have to feed them with raw materials manually, and they require more manual work than other types.
2. The Rotary Machine
First, this machine’s compression rolls compress the unprocessed granules into a tablet; then, the machine raises the lower punch to eject the tablet.
These tablet-making machines have several advantages, like their automation abilities and speedy manufacturing. They can produce thousands of tablets in an hour with consistent compression force, which leads to consistent tablet weight, perfect for large-scale manufacturing.
However, these rotary tablet presses have a high production cost. They have a complex design and require specific tablet press tooling, making them difficult to operate and expensive. To change the tablet’s specifications, like size and shape, you will require new tooling, which is inconvenient and time-consuming.
3. The High-Speed Tablet Press Machine
These pharmaceutical tablet press machines have a higher speed and can produce more tablets per hour. They use rotating tablet press dies and punches to compress powdered or granular materials.
High-speed press machines have high output with a consistent weight and quality, and most of their workflow is automated to increase their operating speed. They have a high initial cost, but as they produce many tablets per hour, the cost per tablet is low.
However, these tablet machines require you to have a high initial capital as they are expensive. They have a complex design and a high tooling cost. They are also very noisy and require extensive maintenance, adding to production costs.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Tablet Press Machine
If you are looking for a guide to choosing the suitable tablet press machine for your business, consider these factors before you set up your pharmaceutical plant:
1. Output Capacity
The table press’s output capacity depends upon its punching mechanism. If you are in a major pharmaceutical industry looking for large-scale production, choose a tablet place that can produce thousands of tablets per hour.
2. Tablet Shape and Size
Your press’s tooling determines your product’s shape and size. If you’re opting for a specific shape, make sure your machine is compatible with the required tooling.
3. Material of Construction
Stainless steel and aluminum are the most common materials for tablet presses. Aluminum is lightweight and cost-effective, but stainless steel is more durable and resists corrosion and chemical damage. Consider your priorities and choose the suitable construction material.
The tablet press’s cost significantly influences your decision, especially if you want to produce tablets commercially. Your cost will influence what price you sell the tablets at. A price too high will cause your customers to seek alternative companies.
Consider your initial installment costs, production costs per tablet, and maintenance costs before deciding on a tablet press.
5. Ease of Use
Your tablet press should not be too complicated, and it should be easy to train a regular person to operate it. Don’t go for complex designs, as they are harder to operate, and any error can cause low-quality tablet production.
Advantages of Using a Tablet Press Machine
Using a tablet press machine instead of a manual press, direction compression, or capsule filler has several advantages for your pharmaceutical industry, such as:
1. Consistent Tablet Quality
A tablet press ensures consistency in your tablet quality. All your tablets will be of the same shape, size, and weight with almost no variation.
2. High Production Efficiency
Tablet presses are very efficient and can produce large batches in less time. Direct or manual compression methods are less efficient and cannot produce many pills quickly, making them unsuitable for large-scale production.
3. Lower Cost of Tablet Production
Tablet compression machines automate workflow. This allows more pills and a lower production cost per tablet.
Disadvantages of Using a Tablet Press Machine
While using a pharmaceutical tablet press machine has several advantages, there are some drawbacks too, such as:
1. High Initial Investment
Tablet presses are expensive. While they may save you money in the long run, the initial installation cost is high; not every industry can afford that.
2. Limited Flexibility in Tablet Design
Tablet presses compress the tablet in only the given shape and size. Changing that shape or size requires changing tooling, which is inconvenient and time-consuming.
3. Production Constraints
Tablet presses have several constraints, like output capacity and waste production. Changing the tablet size or shape and machine maintenance takes significant time, constraining the production process.
Common Issues with Pharmaceutical Tablet Press Machines and How to Troubleshoot Them
Tablet press calibration is essential to ensure the smooth running of your machine. Here are some tips for maintaining and servicing your machine:
1. Problems With Formulation
Your tablet may stick to the punch dies due to improper formulation. Add a lubricant like stearic acid to your tablet composition to fix this, or lubricate your machine.
Your tablet’s top or bottom may disassociate from the rest of the tablet, creating a cap-like shape. You can solve this by reducing your machine’s speed and adjusting your compression force.
Your tablet may also chip or break because it is too brittle. Add a binder excipient like sorbitol or polyethylene glycol to hold the tablet together or adjust the machine speed to solve this issue. A tablet hardness tester can help you determine the right composition of the binder and active ingredient.
2. Machine Jam and Excessive Noise
Proper machine maintenance is essential for longevity. Contact the manufacturer if your machine jams excessively or makes too much noise.
Usually, a machine jam happens when a tablet gets stuck. Clear the machine and reduce the feed rate to overcome the jam.
If the pharmaceutical tablet press machine has loose internal parts, it will produce excessive noise. Tighten its parts, replace worn-out parts, and lubricate the machine to reduce noise.
Using a Tablet Press Machine Safely
You must ensure lab safety when formulating tablets and using the tablet press. To avoid contamination, wear personal protective equipment, including face masks, latex gloves, lab coats, and bouffant caps. Work ergonomically by maintaining the proper posture when using the tablet press. Keep the work area organized to prevent any mix-ups and mishaps. Store your raw medicine in proper moisture-resistant and heat-resistant cabinets. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety protocols and routinely perform maintenance.
A pharmaceutical tablet press machine can make thousands of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic, or industrial tablets quickly. These machines use stationary or rotary punchers to compress the raw powder or granule into a tablet. These machines are a fast and efficient way of producing pharmaceutical pills.
However, they have high initial costs and require proper calibration and maintenance. Also, you must follow the lab safety rules whenever working with pharmaceutical compounds.
Make sure to purchase from high-quality machine manufacturers. Contact us today for a quote.