ACG Engineering’s Customized Oral Dosage Encapsulation Team outfits capsule filler for precision capsule-in-capsule production of incompatible powder-based ingredients.
Piscataway, N.J. – ACG, a global supplier offering end-to-end capsules manufacturing solutions for the pharmaceutical industry, recently helped a prominent India-based probiotics manufacturer produce a Vitamin C-infused, powder-based dietary supplement with incompatible ingredients. Utilizing advanced capsule-in-capsule technology, the project avoided costly infrastructure investment through a cost-effective customized upgrade approach.
Dietary supplements can present particularly daunting manufacturing challenges, especially when they include a combination of ingredients whose molecular makeup are deemed incompatible. This was the case with ACG’s customer, whose supplement included a mix of probiotics and Vitamin C. Also called ascorbic acid, the latter is notoriously chemically unstable, and easily decomposes when exposed to heat, moisture, or the types of micro-organisms inherent in probiotics.
Such instances often call for a more sophisticated production approach, such as capsule-in-capsule applications. An evolving technology, capsule-in-capsule overcomes many of the limitations of incompatible ingredients by housing one ingredient inside the other, effectively segregating and therefore protecting sensitive elements.
However, this typically requires equipment modifications that can make the entire endeavor unattractive from a cost-benefit ratio. In this instance, the pharma company was hoping to manufacture the product on an AF 40T Capsule Filler. With over 2,000 successful installations worldwide, ACG’s AF family has a reputation for reliably encapsulating a wide range of difficult formulations; to date, more than 3,000 different drugs and nutritional products have been manufactured on an AF Series Capsule Filler.
This job, however, would require some additional arrangements. The formulation called for a powder-based probiotic to be housed in a larger capsule containing powder-based ascorbic acid powder. To accomplish this, ACG’s team of customized oral dosage encapsulation experts upgraded the AF 40T with a special inner-into-outer capsule filling attachment.
The attachment operates as follows: capsules are loaded into hoppers, from where they flow into reservoirs and are guided by means of baffle plates to a soft gel magazine. The magazine then releases the capsules using a specially designed mechanism. Fingers in the upper and lower stage alternate between holding and releasing the capsules into sliding plates, which then transfer capsules into the diverter block, which directs the smaller capsules into the larger ones .
A non-fill detection system with infrared sensors ensures only filled capsules are accepted, with any unfilled capsules rejected at the exit chute using PLC-based logic. The filling process is completely controlled by an intuitive interface featuring alarms and production controls.
The ACG team then equipped the machine with a custom-designed dosing disc with a special dome that accurately considered the inner capsule’s volume when filling the outer capsule – ensuring highest-possible efficacy while virtually eliminating product wastage.
The outfitted capsule filler successfully met the new needs without sacrificing satisfactory throughput. The module is capable of manufacturing upwards of 14,000 capsule-in-capsule products per hour.
“This project showcases both the flexibility of our standard capsule fillers and the ACG team’s ability to customize our equipment – in this case, via a precision partial filling mechanism that accomplished the tricky process without wasting powder product or, even worse, underfilling,” said John Carey, Vice President of Sales for ACG Engineering. “The dietary supplements landscape in particular features an abundance of ingredients combinations that don’t always play well together, meaning smart segregation solutions like capsule-in-capsule filling will become increasingly sought-after.”