Making Tablets - The Right Tools for the jobPrint
The concept of producing a tablet form dosage starts first at the company’s marketing department. With that said, the formulators are responsible in producing the said tablet. Below are some key points to consider when specifying the dies and press punches.
Do not judge a book by its cover. We are all familiar with that cliché; however, first impression truly counts. This is the reason why it is crucial for one to consider the product’s look especially during the initial stage of planning. Appearance plays a crucial role in patient acceptance and as such, the design of the tablet is often left to the capable hands of the marketing department. It is thus the responsibility of the production department to ensure that the design takes shape and holds true to what the marketing department envisioned. The ability to do that lies in having the right tooling, as without it, the probability of success is difficult to comprehend.
Communication between the two departments is often mired with issues and this article will also touch briefly on the importance of communication between parties as a misunderstanding or issues can delay and cause problems in the whole process.
First Impression Counts
When patients or consumers hold the tablet in their hand or are in the process of taking such orally, it probably never crosses their mind the reason for the shape or design of that tablet. In fact, some are in the dark when it comes to tablet presses and how tooling equipment works. Despite this lack of knowledge, perception plays a crucial and important role in marketing decisions for manufacturing companies. Choosing the right tooling equipment would ensure that those perceptions and ideas brought forth will come into fruition as tablets produced with those ideas would land in millions of medicine cabinets, pharmacies, drugstores or even one’s own backpack.
The tablet tool makes an impression to the manufacturer as well as with the product and can influence the consumer’s idea or perception even if they are not aware of the relationship between the appearance of the tablet and the tools used to manufacture it.
A tablet design generally starts as an idea in the marketing department, after which, it is then passed to the Research and Development department to start formulation. Small batches are then produced as samples, as the R & D department wants to make sure that the tooling would work for the formulation and they do not want to risk investing on equipment that cannot be used during production. Some R & D departments would use different configurations to process their research. That said, the R & D department is not responsible for choosing the tool used as the Engineering department would be the one responsible for selecting the right tooling equipment. The R & D department would file all the company’s patent applications and the Engineering team would be responsible for ordering the tools afterwards.
The timetables are different for each department, as the engineering team would need to know the tablet’s specification (weight, size, volume, etc…) in order to determine the right tablet presses to order. According to engineers that do not do their homework would often find themselves in a quandary, as they would encounter plenty of problems. An example would be excessive compression force and ejection, which can lead to wear and tear of the tablet presses.
leading to press failure or incorrect compression of tablets. In another example, if the company purchases a tablet press that can produce 4000 tablet/minute but production of the tablet is only 2800/minute, this would create problems for the company especially if demand for the tablet is high. Increasing the production would lead to premature wear and tear of the press and purchasing another one is not an option as it will be an added expense for the company.
Choosing the right tooling equipment depends on clear communication between all departments as miscommunication can cost the company. If the marketing side does not understand the feasibility and creates a complex design, the design would go all the way towards production before the problem is discovered.
From Planning To Execution
There are instances that lack of knowledge or understanding from the marketing department can lead to problems caused by complex or poor design. It is important therefore that the department has a thorough knowledge or even a basic understanding so they will know how their decisions and actions can affect the production process.
Before planning, it is necessary that both marketing and engineering teams should meet with tooling vendors early on. That way, they can talk and share their concerns and issues before actually implementing the design. Tooling manufacturers are an important source of information that companies should tap. Some people do not do this as either one is intimidated or they do not want to cross the line for fear of crossing boundaries.
Everybody has his or her own expertise it is important to bring this expertise to the table. One would receive poor results and even miss deadlines if one department is left out of the equation. This is especially true for the pharmaceutical industry. In contrast to the pharmaceutical industry, confectionary companies have long understood the importance of meeting vendors to develop their production method. Confectionary companies use this, as they know that it is more cost-effective. Confectionary makers earn a profit of 1/1000 cents for every tablet produced; however, pharmaceutical companies earn as much as 10/tablet. Without the use of the right tooling equipment, it would be difficult to earn profit.
Before designing the tablet, it is important that every tablet manufacturer send out people from each department to talk with a tooling vendor. This relieves the pressure of anticipating the problems that producing the tablet would cause. Meeting with the tooling vendor would enable one to understand and anticipate the correct tooling equipment they need to produce the tablet. Leaving one department behind would lead to finger pointing especially if the tablet production is not successful.
Right questions to ask:
- The tablet’s intended size and shape
- Tooling configuration and size needed
- Configuration of the cup and its effects on the compression force
- Possibility of the formulation to stick or pick
- Sensitivity of the tablet to heat or change of temperature
- Tablet made of abrasive or compounds can be corrosive
You can find out more about the tablet press tooling that we offer by messaging us through our contact page.
These are just some examples of questions to ask. Not asking questions would eventually lead to possible problems in the future. One company produces a multivitamin tablet shaped like an elongated ball giving an appearance of two capsules together. The company encountered several problems in the production due to the poor design and cost the company money with the tooling equipment. The company redesigned their product, consulted a tooling vendor for suggestions and came up with a flatter tablet design. The flatter the cup the more compression force one gets resulting to faster and easier tablet process.
Another company who wanted to create a triple strength formula tablet consulted the tooling vendor for the tooling required. After several modifications, the company came up with a smaller tablet design and still with the same formulation. In certain instances where pharmaceutical companies want their design, tooling vendors can tell them the repercussions involved with creating a tooling equipment that would produce their design including possibility of lack of response from the public and potential problems with the tooling equipment.
Simple or Complex?
One excellent source of information for tooling specification is the American Pharmaceutical Association’s Tableting Specification Manual.
- Factors to consider when choosing a tooling equipment”
- Provide detailed information about the tablet (quote form)
- Provide shape, size, design
- Amount of compression force
- Compression force is important to make a tablet.
- Limitations with the tablet’s design
- Tooling design options
- Usage of the encyclopedia of pharmaceutical technology can help one determine the tooling options available. Doomed punch heads can lower the concentrated stress inflicted and prolong the service life of the tools
- Tool steels
- To ensure tablet quality, the type of steel used is important.
Tablet manufacturers produce a variety of tablets. That said every tablet production is different. As there are no two same products, they would need the right tooling equipment. There are standard tooling equipment available; however, it may not be optimized to one’s product. It is important to ask questions especially with tooling vendors and they would be happy to help you decide and make a smart and well-informed decision. LFA provides a wide range of tooling solutions. If you are interested in our services please get in contact.