The Challenge of Die Filling in Rotary Presses : A Systematic Study of Material Properties and Process Parameters
For the efficient and safe production of pharmaceutical tablets, a deep process understanding is of high importance. An essential process step during tableting is the die filling, as it is responsible for a consistent tablet weight and drug content. Furthermore, it affects the results of subsequent process steps, compaction and ejection, and thus critical quality attributes. This study focuses on understanding the influences of process parameters and material properties on die filling on a rotary tablet press. By the systematic variation in process parameters as the turret and paddle speeds as well as the fill and dosing depths, five formulations with differing properties are processed. Analysis of the normalized tablet weight, called filling yield, revealed different limitation mechanisms of the filling process, i.e., incomplete filled dies for certain parameter settings. Kinetic limitations occur due to a short residence time under the feed frame (filling time) caused by high turret speeds, which additionally induce high tablet weight variation coefficients. Characteristic maximum turret speeds at certain paddle speeds can be found to still achieve complete filling. At low turret speeds, densification of the powder inside the dies takes place, induced by two mechanisms: either high paddle speeds or high overfill ratios, or a combination of both. The challenge to fill the dies completely as well as avoid densification is dependent on material properties as the flowability. The mass discharge rate from an orifice was found to be in a linear correlation to the filling results of different formulations below complete filling.