Extruder for Continuous Pharma Processes Performs in R&D and Small-Scale Production

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Coperion’s ZSK 18 MEGAlab extruder fulfills requirements for both wet extrusion and hot-melt extrusion pharmaceutical processes.

Coperion’s ZSK 18 MEGAlab extruder is a flexible, continuous pharma extrusion system suitable for R&D and small-scale production in wet extrusion, twin-screw granulation, and hot-melt extrusion (HME) processes. The first of these systems with an 18-mm screw diameter has recently been delivered to an international pharmaceutical company and is in use for a variety of different continuous process tasks, reported Coperion in a press release. In addition to the extruder, the system uses two Coperion K-Tron gravimetric loss-in-weight feeders, a cooling belt, and a Coperion Pelletizing Technology strand pelletizer. 

The ZSK 18 MEGAlab has a maximum throughput rate of 10 kg/h. For wet-extrusion processes, the system comprises more than 10 different die plates with various numbers of die holes and die hole diameters. For hot-melt extrusion applications, Coperion has equipped the ZSK extruder with a die head that has several exchangeable nozzles to provide different strand diameters. The die head offers additional bore holes for process analytical technology sensors.

The Coperion K-Tron liquid gravimetric loss-in-weight feeder can be connected to each of the barrels of the extruder process section. This flexibility in feeding also applies to the Coperion K-Tron API gravimetric loss-in-weight feeder, which can be mounted on the first or fourth process section to allow process lengths of 32 L/D as well as of 20 L/D. The gravimetric feeders can handle a wide variety of materials, with even difficult flow characteristics and variable feed rates. The company’s digital weighing and controls technology ensures high accuracy in feeding materials, which is crucial to the continuous pharmaceutical process.

The ZSK extruder itself and all peripheral equipment are compact and movable for optimum usage in laboratory conditions. The GAMP control system and water-cooling manifold are integrated into the stainless-steel base frame of the extruder. The geometrical consistency within the ZSK series allows scale-up of the ZSK 18 MEGAlab system to larger ZSK extruder sizes and higher throughput rates, and the new system fulfills GMP requirements for clinical trials and small-scale production processes.

Source: Coperion