The Pigeon Problem - How to make organic tablets
At LFA over the last 7 years we have seen a glimpse into every type of use for a tablet press. Nowadays when someone asks us how to press glass, or metal, or even coffee granules we are no longer surprised. One that was new to us was the pigeon problem.
In early 2014 we had a call from a man that needed to develop a product for his pigeons. He wanted to know if could he come down to our unit to discuss his project with us. Fairly confused but happy to help we invited him over to see what we could sort out.
I am not sure if you are familiar with the rather strange world of competitive pigeon racing but after 3 hours with this very passionate hobbyist we certainly were.
Every weekend he would get in his Volvo and drive 200-300 miles from his house. He would then release a bunch of his pigeons and see which one made it back first. A few times a year he would take his fastest pigeons and race them against other people up and down the country.
Here was his problem. His pigeons liked to eat and all the time that they were eating they were not flying. This meant that they were not winning.
What he needed was a pellet or a tablet that he could feed to his pigeons that would fill them up and give them energy to get underway. Like a protein bar or energy drink but for a pigeon.
So he gave us a sample of all of the ingredients that he wanted in the tablet. Told us how much he needed of each one and we told him that we would need a week or two to work out a formula.
There was one condition though. We could not use any synthetic binders or lubricants. The pigeons are very small and he really did not want to use anything that could hurt them.
Now at LFA we pride ourselves on making sure that we can help our customers develop their products and build their businesses. At first we tried just pressing the products by themselves. But we had two issues with that.
One we were getting the ingredients caking to the dies. This is where small amounts of the tablet get stuck to the top and bottom dies. We would normally sort this with magnesium stearate but our customer really did not want to use this.
Our second issue was tablet strength. While the tablets were coming out whole they did not survive well in transit. This again was a problem as the pigeon community while very close is also quite large and our customer intended to supply everyone. Normally to overcome this we would use a binder such as Microcrystalline Cellulose. Again in this instance he was worried about the expansion of the MCC. MCC when it gets into a human stomach absorbs water expands and helps the tablet break up. Our customer was worried that this may dehydrate the small birds.
So we got to work to see what was available. After a week of searching and emailing every supplier in the industry that we know we got a lead. A manufacturer in Germany was able to supply us with Organic lubricants and binders. Made from a brown rice extract. We ordered in samples and reformulated the mix.
Happy with the results that we had now got and confident that we had met his safety requirements we invited our customer back to check out the finished products.
A week later our Pigeon Man turned back up but this time with his birds. We picked out a few samples and feed them to the birds and off they went. A day later we got an email detailing how the product had worked. The birds had set some of the faster flight times he had seen and he was excited to move on to the next step in setting up and growing his business. Which he was going to do with his new formula and his TDP 5.
If you are trying to make organic tablets or have any other issues then please do get in contact. Since 2009 we at LFA have seen everything and if we do not have the knowledge we have a massive industry support network that we can tap into to support you.
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