Experts take a look at the journey travelled thus far and where pharmaceutical manufacturing is heading over the next decade.
The past decade has seen rapid advances in tablet tooling technology and the acceptance by tablet manufacturers that tooling is a critical part of the tablet production process. Tooling has traditionally been viewed as a consumable item by tablet manufacturers, but this view has changed in recent years as companies invest more in looking after their tooling assets and focus on obtaining a longer life from their punches and dies through improved maintenance and aftercare practices. Tablet manufacturers accept that tablet tooling can have a beneficial effect on the production of good quality tablets, and we have seen a rapid increase in requests for technical support to this end.
A rapid growth area has been that of coating technology. Tool coatings are now seen as an acceptable means of solving production problems, such as sticking and corrosion, resulting in increased product yield while also extending tooling life. They provide for increased tableting efficiency and output, for example, by reducing the requirement for tools to be taken out of production for additional maintenance work.
Tablet and tool design are also areas that have increased in importance as companies are keen to establish a strong brand identity for their tablet products, while at the same time ensuring that the design can function in the rigours of a tablet production environment. Design is also a key tool by which production problems can be overcome and eliminated. These problems may not always be compression-related issues (e.g., picking) but can also be related to downstream processes such as packaging.
The functionality of the tablet press itself has changed over the past decade as presses are more technologically advanced today. Compression speeds have increased dramatically and, therefore, the demands on the performance of the tooling have increased. The new generation of tablet presses require more exacting tooling standards to be met, and the ability to meet exacting specifications and stringent requirements for optimised surface finish have become particularly important.
The adoption of multi-tip tools has also increased as tablet manufacturers strive to be more efficient and increase productivity in a time where financial resources may be constrained. Multi-tip tooling is now recognised and accepted as a credible alternative to purchasing a new tablet press, for example.
About the Author
Steve Deakin is business development director at I Holland.