These nutraceutical tablet press, softgel encapsulation, and checkweigher machines are better, faster...smarter.
Whether the name of the game is tablets, softgels, or capsules, any company looking at the equipment that produces these nutraceutical delivery systems will likely have some of the same priorities in mind. Faster production speeds and increased durability are definitely crucial factors to consider, but some of the newest machines also offer a wide range of customizable features, reduced overages, and a smaller footprint. Here’s a look at some of the latest equipment launches and the innovative capabilities they offer.
MG2 Selekta Checkweigher (Pictured above)
MG America (Fairfield, NJ) first introduced its MG2 Selekta Checkweigher in the U.S. last year, claiming it to be “the fastest tablet checkweigher on the market.” That’s based on the Selekta’s ability to check up to 500,000 units per hour, depending on the product, according to MG America.
Selekta’s high speed is thanks in part to enhanced automation and MG2’s Multi-NETT weight-control system, which has the ability to monitor and control net weight in low-dose applications (5–25 mg).
“It’s safe to say that no machine could possibly be this fast-while still being accurate-without technological advances that make it more automated,” says Fabio Trippodo, president, MG America. “The Selekta selects conforming and nonconforming units through a fail-safe system employing a set of sensors located at critical points throughout the testing process.”
The Selekta is easy to use and maintain, with size changeover accomplished by replacing two sets of parts that are easily disassembled, says Trippodo.
Kilian KTP 720X Tablet Press
Making its debut in December 2014, the Kilian KTP 720X is a high-speed tableting machine “specifically suitable for temperature-sensitive products,” according to manufacturer Romaco (Cologne, Germany). It is designed for both mono- and bi-layer formats, and can compress up to 1,020,000 tablets per hour, says Romaco.
One thing that sets the Kilian KTP 720X apart is what Romaco calls its “Cool-Fast-Clean” design concept. “Cool” refers to a special roller, bolt, and bearing that reduces friction and keeps the process area from getting hotter than 30°C. The machine is “fast” because of its quick powder-to-die filling system and the tool-free dismantling of all contact parts during changeover. Romaco calls the KTP 720X “clean” because of the separation of process area from lower mechanical and maintenance compartments.
This design makes the KTP 720X “ideal for processing effervescent tablets and products with poorly flowing, abrasive, or temperature-sensitive materials,” says Romaco. It is also designed for automated operation and allows for easy maintenance and replacement of parts.
Core-Coating Module for Tablet Press
This new module is also designed for use on a tablet press. However, instead of automation, the main selling point of the core-coating module from Pharma Technology Inc. (Piscataway, NJ) is the capability to produce a more advanced tablet with a coated core. It was developed in collaboration with equipment company Roeltgen (Solingen, Germany) and is designed especially for use with Roeltgen’s FlexiTab tablet press.
The core-coating module works by replacing one of the FlexiTab’s three feeders. It places core tablets in the center of the press die-tablets that have already been pre-filled with a first layer of powder. Another layer of powder then fills the die, covering the core, and the complete tablet is then compressed in a process similar to the pre- and main compression steps performed on standard rotary presses, according to Pharma Technology.
“The core-coating module is cost-effective, easily installed, and provides a widened range of capabilities to the already-versatile FlexiTab tablet press,” says Nic Michel, general manager, Pharma Technology Inc. The module was introduced in October 2014.
880R for Softgel Encapsulation
Perhaps the newest piece of equipment on this list is the 880R softgel-encapsulation machine, which was officially launched in the United States at Supply Side West 2015 in early October. The 880R is created by Changsung (Pocheon, South Korea) and distributed in the United States by Chris Hillseth (Gardena, CA).
Softgel manufacturing can be more challenging than other delivery methods because there are more than 10 variables to control, many of which have been managed by human operators in the past. What sets the 880R apart is the way it fully automates many of these features.
For instance, it’s possible to use the 880R without an operator adjusting the die roll synchronization, manipulating the ribbon thickness, or adjusting the fill weight-removing the need for continuous operator interaction, says Changsung. The company adds that the automation should reduce start-up and changeover times.
The 880R can produce up to 120,000 capsules per hour with a 22 oblong die roll, says Changsung.
NP-400 Tablet Press
The new NP-400 rotary tablet press from Natoli Engineering Company (St. Charles, MO) offers a range of features to reduce waste and increase automation, including a Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy system designed into the frame of the tablet press. Just as auto-lubrication has become standard in many tablet presses, Natoli believes NIR is “set to become an important option for tablet analysis during manufacture.”
The NP-400’s NIR system examines each tablet after compression to determine whether it falls within the specification range for a specific tablet property, says Doug Kirsch, technical service manager, Natoli. For any tablets that do not meet specification, the NIR will communicate with the NP-400’s on-machine supervisory-control and data-acquisition system (SCADA) to direct the tablet to a reject chute for later evaluation.
“This capability will enable customers to generate a data-rich batch record that can be used for lot release support and process-improvement options,” says Kirsch.
The NP-400, which began shipping earlier this year, can produce up to 180,000 tablets per hour and offers optional monitoring features of press temperature, tablet-takeoff force, and humidity. It also includes product-yield technology that deposits excess powder back into the feeding system, reducing waste and allowing for a cleaner production process.
EP-400 Tablet Press
Launched in April, the EP-400 series tablet press from The Elizabeth Companies (McKeesport, PA) is all about saving space. A double-sided production press that’s the size of a normal single-sided machine, the EP-400 offers high production volumes with a small footprint, says Ryan Keefer, North American sales manager, Elizabeth.
Aside from taking up less space, the small footprint of the EP-400 also makes for an easier machine to use and clean, says Keefer. It is available in both a manual and automated version, with the automated version offering full weight control, data collection, recipe storage, and operator security levels, Keefer adds.
Depending on the size of the tablet and turret configurations, the EP-400 can produce between 162,000 and 270,000 maximum tablets per hour, according to Elizabeth.
“This press model is capable of both single-layer and bi-layer production and is being sold at an economical price point for these markets,” says Keefer.