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Capsule deduster, polisher reduces need for mid-batch cleaning

The tritan polymer, segmented vertical spiral mold deduster design gave this processing OEM a leg up in providing one end user pharma manufacturer with an economical solution to residual powder saturation.

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When Graminex, a manufacturer of dietary supplements, began creating its own finished solid dose capsule product, the dusty and abrasive nature of one encapsulated ingredient (pollen extract) caused residual powder saturation, common to most dedusting operations. This required Graminex to perform maintenance more often to keep machines running at optimal speed, says Heather May, COO.

And upon investing in a tablet press capable of producing 324,000 tablets per hour, it became incumbent upon May to maximize production by finding a durable deduster capable of keeping up with production while still maintaining quality. 

Further complicating the search was the fact that Graminex often produced small-volume custom formulations and high specialty contract manufacturing jobs that required multiple, quick changeovers. It needed equipment that could be dismantled, cleaned and reassembled with minimal effort and downtime. 

With the help of Pharma Technology’s PTGV 800 vertical capsule polisher and Econo Flex elevating deduster, Graminex was able to hit that 324,000 tablets per hour mark, and have its equipment back online in less than 30 minutes after a changeover, May says.

What’s most unique about the deduster is the segmented vertical spiral molded out of tritan polymer from Eastman Kodak. The use of the tritan polymer material goes against the grain of stainless steel welded spirals used in traditional dedusters, according to Nic Michel, general manager, Pharma Technology, Inc.

The material was first used for syringes and vials in the biopharmaceutical industry, which is FDA approved and has since been patented by Pharma Technology. The shock resistant spiral enables an ascending movement of the tablets while the machine extracts dust residue. Compressed air jets allow dust extraction to take place on the spiral’s outer circumference eliminating residual powder and creating a concurrent flow of tablets, which improves process times and yields. The spiral can also be heightened depending on customer needs by adding modular segments.

After the tablets or the capsules have been dusted, polished, and cleaned, a mandate requires manufacturers to check for metal particles inside of the capsules. To abide by the protocols, Pharma Technology integrates metal detectors from Loma SystemsSafeline, and CEIA into its capsule polishers and dedusters, which also save space in the process room.

“Instead of having a separate metal detector on its own tripod, base, or some sort of platform on wheels and having to move it separately and adjust the height every time, we combine it with the deduster or the polisher on one base which is already height-adjusted,” says Michel.

What set Pharma Technology’s polisher and deduster apart from similar products on the market was the cost-efficient equipment and the ease of dismantling and cleaning the equipment via ultrasonic wave bath, eliminating the need for tools.

Both machines supplied to Graminex were made out of Pharma Technology’s factory in Brussels, Belgium. The machine components are locally sourced, including regulator and tubing parts from Festo. The machine’s controls come from B&R, which Pharma Technology has been using for the past five years, says Michel. 

“Our machines are fairly small and the control systems are relatively simple,” Michel says. “All we need is a reliable platform that's very easy to use for the operator.”

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