Different types of machines or equipment are utilized in the pharmaceutical industry to prepare various pharmaceutical products. These machines have multiple functions and execute the work as per their configuration.
A capsule-filling machine is an important machine in the pharmaceutical industry. It plays a crucial role in filling the capsule and helps with the speedy execution of the entire process. In this article, we discuss what a capsule filler machine is, different types of capsule filling machines and their working principles. Before going into details of capsule filling Equipments it is necessary to highlight about capsules.
What is a Capsule?
A capsule can be defined as tiny cylindrical packaging that is easy to swallow. Capsules are used to package medicines or pharmaceutical ingredients, vitamins and supplements. They have proved to be a perfect alternative to tablets.
Depending on the process and the industry where it is going to be used, the following things can be filled into the capsule:
Moreover, the type of filling ingredient also determines the capacity and type of capsule required for the capsule filling process in the pharmaceutical industry.
Types of Capsules uses in the Pharmaceutical Industry
The packaging process, technical specifications, and the type of filling ingredient together determine the kind of capsule to be used for the packaging process.
Two main types of capsules are used in the pharmaceutical industry. They include:
- Hard gelatin and vegetable capsule
- Soft gelatin and vegetable capsules
An aqueous solution is used to manufacture These types of capsules which is essential for the pharmaceutical industry. Apart from plants products and gelatin, the capsule also contains:
- Preservative ingredient
- Colouring agents
Let us now check out what a capsule filler machine is, different types of capsule filling machines and their working principles.
What is a capsule-filling machine?
The capsule filling machine, simply called the capsule filler, is equipment utilized to fill empty capsules with pharmaceutical ingredients. These capsule-filling machines can be classified into two categories according to their uses and functions: professional capsule-filling machines and personal capsule-filling machine.
The professional capsule-filling machine is used in the pharmaceutical industry for large-scale production and higher efficiency. These are primarily automatic filler machines that fill a set amount of medication or pharmaceutical ingredients into the capsule.
Whereas the personal capsule filling machine is utilized for small-scale capsule production. Such capsule fillers allow the individual or a small business to fill the capsule with the necessary prescribed medication when required.
Capsule Filling Machine Working Principle
Every capsule filler has its unique working principle. The step-by-step working process of the capsule filling machine is as follows:
- Positioning of translucent and colorless capsules in the capsule filling tray.
- Removing the capsule caps from the body
- Filling the capsule body with prescribed pharmaceutical ingredients
- Rearranging the capsule caps onto the capsule body
- Expulsion of the filled capsules from the machine
All capsule-filling machines or encapsulates have the same working principle.
Types of Capsule Filling Machines
Different types of capsule filling machines are available in the market depending on the need for capsule fillers in the pharmaceutical industry. The capsule fillers can be divided into three broad types:
- Hand or manual-operated capsule-filling machine
- Semi-automatic capsule filling machine
- Automatic capsule filling machine
Let’s check out how each type of capsule filler works:
Manual Capsule Filling Machine
The manual capsule-filling machine is mainly designed for personal use or in manufacturing processes requiring less or an exact amount of prescribed ingredients to be filled in the capsule.
The manual capsule filler could produce around 800 capsules in one pressing cycle. These hand-operated capsule fillers contain a loading tray with a volume of about 300 holes(on average), along with the provider tray that is attached to the machine. The pin plate in the device acts as the filter, and the sealing plate is used to seal the cap of the capsule. The cam handle with the 300-hole loading tray is connected to the machine. When all these pieces of equipment are added to the primary device, it can produce, on average, 300 capsules or as per the manufacturing requirement.
The manual capsule-filling machine is most suitable for small or limited manufacturing of capsules in the pharmaceutical industry.
Semi-automatic Capsule Filling Machine
A semi-automatic capsule filler can also be defined as a hybrid capsule filling machine which is a combination of both manual and automatic capsule filling machines.
The semi-automatic capsule-filling machine is less dependent on the operator. It is designed in such a way that it can fill and rearrange the capsule caps on its own as per the set computer programming, provided the machine meets the strict hygiene requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, it can be adjusted for manual operations to produce limited quantities of capsules as and when required. The strong construction and robust design of the semi-automatic capsule filling machine make it a highly durable and low-maintenance machine equipment for the pharmaceutical industry.
Using proven non-corrosive elements and stainless steel for the construction of essential minor components eliminates contamination and helps to quickly clean the parts after use. This process makes the capsule filler machine available for reuse to fill up the capsules with granular and powder ingredients as the requirement of the pharmaceutical industry.
Automatic Capsule Filling Machine
Automatic capsule fillers are designed and manufactured to directly or automatically fill the capsules with the required pharmaceutical ingredients with any external command or operator assistance. These machines are programmed with the help of the computer and operate as per the input command. Such automatic capsule-filling machines are mainly utilized in large-scale capsule production in the pharmaceutical industry. The capsule fillers can effectively fill any kind of fine or powder particles into the body of the capsule. An automatic capsule filling machine can also operate as a completely independent system by adding secondary components such as the dust extractor, online capsule polishing machine, empty capsule ejector and damaged capsule sorter.
Capsule-filling machines are a need of the pharmaceutical industry. These machines help with the efficient and large-scale production of higher-grade contamination-free capsules for the pharmaceutical industry. With minor human interference, these machines can meet the strict hygiene and quarantine norms of the pharmaceutical industry.
Advantages of Capsule Filling Machines
- They are designed to be high speed and scalable capsule filling machines.
- They consume low power without compromising on the output.
- Capsule filling machine meet the full GMP compliance.
- They are highly accurate, flexible, and precise machines and best suited for the pharmaceutical industry.
- The production efficiency of the machines helps to reduce the powder material losses by almost 90%
- They can also be used for Aseptic fill to weight.
Working Principle of Automatic Capsule Filling Machine
Automatic capsule fillers can automatically do the following tasks: capsule separation, filling, and capsule locking, without any need for operator assistance or supervision. Therefore, such machines can significantly improve the production efficiency of the manufacturing unit and significantly reduce their labor costs.
Automatic capsule filling machines could be divided into continuous motion machines and intermittent motion machines. Here will discuss the working principle of the intermittent motion automatic capsule filler since it is used by most of the pharmaceutical industry. The working process includes the following:
- Capsule rectification
- Capsule caps separation from the body
- Filling medication
- Waste capsule rejection
- Capsule locking
- Ejection go filled capsule
A majority of the new capsules are joined, wherein, the bodes and caps are joined. Therefore, these joined capsules have to be rectified first for the filling process to begin. Capsules get randomly poured onto the capsule delivery plate with multiple inward circular channels through which the capsules go through into the machine. The lower portion of every channel is equipped with spring pieces. The capsule plate reciprocates up and down during operation, which makes the capsules enter into the inward channels and get stuck in the spring pieces. The delivery plate then moves down to cause the spring pieces to release the capsules allowing a systematic fall of the capsule into the machine. As the capsules require further rectification, it falls into the front end of the horizontal fork. The specific structure of the fork allows it to act on the middle part of the capsule body with a smaller diameter. The difference in the centre of gravity will cause the capsule to move into the position of the body forwards and cap backwards. Then the direction of the capsule gets adjusted with the help of the vertical fork. This allows the capsule to enter the next segment as the capsule body downwards. This completes the capsule rectification process.
Capsule Cap Separation from the body
The capsule tray is then transferred to the capsule separation section. The vacuum diver then rises to make the upper surface of the tray as close to the lower segment surface without any gaps. The capsule cap gets separated from the body due to the vacuum. The capsule cap gets stuck on the upper section of the capsule tray while the capsule body goes downwards.
After capsule cape separation, the lower and upper sections of the capsule tray are separated and transferred into their respective positions.
Waste Capsule Rejection
A few empty capsules don’t get separated due for various reasons. There are pins positioned close to the capsules. If the capsule caps have yet to separate from the capsule body during the separation process, the pin pulls out the capsule from the mould, and the capsule is blown to the capsule Colling bags. The separated capsule bodies and caps are then transferred to the next station for further processing.
The capsule body then gets transferred via the conveyor belt to the filling station. There are various ways to fill the medication, such as intermittent dose filling, tamping filling, vacuum filling and dodge cylinder filling.
At the locking station, the lower and upper capsule trays rotate simultaneously, which causes the axis lines of the lower and upper capsule trays to overlap. The pin plate below the capsule tray and the baffle plate above the capsule tray begins to move, which causes the capsule caps and bodies to get locked into position.
The capsule ejection component is the same as the capsule rejection component. The pin placed in the station pushes out the locked capsules into the capsule tray. The compressed air then blows the ejected locked capsules into the capsule outlet.
The capsule tray moves back to the capsule rectification station after the completion of the entire filling process. However, there could be waste capsules or powder leftovers in the capsule tray. These need to be cleaned before the operation restarts again. Compressed air is directed to the capsule tray to blow away the leftover powder and waste capsules into the dust collection station located at the bottom.
This is how an automatic capsule filling machine works. Each step happens so swiftly and simultaneously that the machine can fill about 13k to 460k capsules per hour. This makes an automatic filling machine the best choice for large scale capsule production.
Working principle of Manual Capsule Filling Machine
In a manual operated capsule filler, the cap and body of the capsule are detached and inserted into the loading tray while checking the front knob. The empty capsules get poured along with the filling materials and sealed off. The locking lever is then pulled forward. The long handle has the provision to lift the caps from the bodies. After his stage, the capsule bodies are brought to the same level as the filling surface. Next, the pharmaceutical ingredient or filling powder is measured and transferred to the shelf. Then the capsule bodies are filled with powder. The machines can compress the powder if required. After the capsules are filled with the filling material, they are transferred to the next station, where the filled capsules get sealed off. Next, they move to the locking station, where the capsules re pushed over the capsule body, thus locking the capsule into place. These capsules now get arranged on the loading tray to systemically exit the machine for packaging.
Manual filling machines are most suitable for:
- Hospitals and pharmacies
- Small manufacturing units
- Low volume and a large variety of encapsulation operations
- Herbal medical manufacturers
- Pharmacy training intentions
- Filling of formulations in R&D laboratories
Therefore, manual filling machines are very beneficial and can increase production manifold. The simple operation procedures of the manual filler can be repeated several times per hour, and output could be increased depending on the requirement.
Choosing a capsule filling machine appropriate for your manufacturing or pharmacy requirements is vital to meet your capsule production goals. The various things to remember while selecting the capsule filling machine include production capacity, manufacturer, brand, and quality assurance, among others. Knowing about the different types of capsule-filling machines and their operations will give you a head start in choosing the suitable capsule filler for your manufacturing requirements.
Manual Capsule Filling Machine Video
Semi Automatic Capsule Filling Machine Video