Decades ago, batch coating was the most efficient way to get a high-quality tablet coating. The industry has changed, and now there’s a much better way to get the same quality product in less time and at a lower cost: the continuous tablet coater.
- For decades, the main tablet coating process was batch coating.
- Originally, batch coating was performed in solid coating pans instead of side-vented, perforated coating drums.
- Tablets are more likely to be damaged during batch coating than the continuous coating process.
- Continuous tablet coaters offer faster production times and improved coating uniformity compared to batch coating.
The Batch Coating Process: The First Industry Standard
For decades, the primary tablet coating process was batch coating. By using production batch tablet coating equipment, manufacturers got the most cost-effective and time-saving solution available for coating high-quality, uniform tablets.
Originally, the batch coating process was performed in solid coating pans. Then, manufacturers introduced side-vented, perforated coating drums, which allow film coating to evaporate in less time. Introducing perforated coating drums in the production line changed the industry, resulting in decreased coating times and increased throughputs.
The Problem With Batch Coating
Although perforated coating drums improved the coating process significantly, batch coating still has its limitations.
Large drums for batch coating come with a new set of challenges. As drum loads increase, the time and effort to load and unload them increase, too. Typically, coating uniformity also drops as batch sizes increase, and when you’re using a large coating drum for big batches, each tablet spends less time in the spray zone.
Damaged tablets are also a cause for concern with batch coating. Large batch coaters on the market use tablet beds that can run as deep as 500 mm, resulting in damage to the tablets at the bottom of the bed due to the weight from the tablets on top.
As new advancements in the tablet manufacturing industry developed, a better way to achieve cost-effective coating uniformity came to light. The solution? The continuous coating process.
What Makes the Continuous Coating Process an Industry Advancement?
The continuous coating process is considered an industry advancement because it decreases the risk of damaged tablets and inconsistent coating uniformity, giving the end user the best of both worlds: rapid production times and highly uniform product quality.
Continuous Tablet Coater Advantages
There are several advantages to choosing a continuous tablet coater over a batch coating machine, including:
Improved Coating Uniformity
Thanks to innovative spray guns and a shallow coating pan, continuous tablet coaters offer improved coating uniformity. Continuous coating machines are manufactured with an increased number of spray guns to provide a consistent, high-quality coating and deposition, while the shallower pan diameter exposes a larger number of tablets to the spray.
Higher Continuous Throughput
Batch coating requires the operator to pre-load the pan and then pre-warm, dry, cool, and discharge the tablets, but with continuous coating processes, manufacturers save time and produce a much higher continuous throughput.
Reduced Tablet Stress
During the tumbling process, batch coating exposes tablets to mechanical stress, high temperatures, and humidity for up to four hours. In a continuous tablet coater, exposure to harsh conditions only lasts for 10 to 20 minutes.
Continuous coating machines are designed and manufactured with an efficient gun sequencing feature to ensure product is never wasted, resulting in a zero-waste operation.
Reduced Material Handling
The continuous coating process means less time spent on material handling and faster execution. With continuous tablet coaters, there’s a healthy balance of time management and product quality. The machine requires less coating to complete the process and decreases time requirements while delivering excellent definitions for engraving, bisect, land, and edges.
Our Continuous Tablet Coaters
Thomas Processing offers two continuous tablet coaters to improve your coating processes:
Our FLEX CTC continuous tablet coater extends our film coating technology from the typical batch process to an efficient and continuous process. Featuring 22 spray nozzles and Thomas’s industry-standard ACCELA COTA® technology in a fully perforated drum, our FLEX CTC achieves the same high performance demonstrated in our batch coaters—in a lot less time.
- Tool-less assembly/disassembly
- Allows a clear coat to be applied over a color coat
- Seamless spray bar cleaning
- Less coating required
ACCELA CTC 500
A smaller version of the FLEX CTC, the ACCELA CTC 500 includes advanced features that benefit the pharmaceutical industry on a larger scale. With shorter drums than the FLEX CTC and an impressive throughput of 500 kg/hr, the ACCELA CTC 500 is perfect for high-quantity prescriptions and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- Integrated with a 7,000 CFM air handling system
- Improved air plenum design to ensure stable airflow control through the tablet bed
- Uniform airflow design for enhanced temperature and humidity control
- Compact design that reduces production plant GMP space requirements
Thomas Continuous Tablet Coaters: Improving Your Operations
Thomas’s continuous tablet coaters provide a higher throughput alternative than traditional batch coaters, minimizing material handling and changeover between batches. Our continuous coating machines also use smaller drums for more uniform coating and less damage to the tablet.
Thanks to their shallow bed depth, Thomas’s innovative continuous tablet coaters create a much more uniform coating than other batch tablet coating equipment. With our continuous coating process, the coating protects the integrity of the tablet, resulting in better performance for the user. Investing in a Thomas continuous tablet coater for your operations greatly improves the overall quality of your tablets. Contact us today to learn more about our line of continuous tablet coaters.