Encapsulators, also called capsule fillers, capsule filling machines or encapsulation machines are mechanical devices commonly used for industrial and pharmaceutical purposes. These machines are used to fill empty soft or hard gelatin capsules of various sizes with powders, granules, semi-solids or liquids substances containing active pharmaceutical ingredients or a mixture of active drug substances and excipients. This process of filling empty capsules with substances is termed encapsulation.
- 1 Operating principles of a capsule filling machine
- 2 Types of capsule filling machines
Operating principles of a capsule filling machine
Capsule filling machines should all have the following operating principles in common.
- Rectification (orientation of the bad gelatin capsules).
- Separation of capsule caps from bodies.
- Dosing of fill material/formulation (filling the bodies).
- Rejoining of caps and bodies
- Ejection of filled capsules.
Types of capsule filling machines
Various types of encapsulation machines are available and these machines are selected based on
- The requirement of the manufacturer/nature of the capsule (hard capsule or soft capsule).
- The quantity of capsule to be manufactured.
Encapsulators used in encapsulation of hard gelatin capsule can be classified or said to be of three types.
- Manual /hand operated capsule filling machine.
- Semi-Automatic capsule filling machine.
- Automatic capsule filling machine.
Manual /hand operated encapsulators
These type of encapsulators consists of
- A bed of about 200-300 holes
- A loading tray with about 200-300 holes.
- A powder tray.
- A pin plate with about 200-300 pins
- A sealing plate with a rubber cap.
- A lever
- A cam handle with loading tray of about 250 holes on the average,
A hand operated capsule filling machine is capable of producing about 6250 capsules per hour. This machine is used by small scale manufacturers and hospitals for extempore preparations.
How a manual capsule filling machine works
As the name implies, semi-automatic encapsulators (semi-automatic capsule filling machines) combine both manual and automatic methods of capsule filling, thus can be said to be partially automated. Its operation is simple and the equipment meets the hygiene requirements for its use in the pharmaceutical industry. Its simple design and robust construction (which ensures long life and trouble-free operation), the use of stainless steel and non-corrosive approved materials in the construction of contact parts (which eliminates contamination and facilitates easy cleaning after use) make the machine suitable for filling powders and granular materials in the pharmaceutical and health food industries.
How a semi-automatic capsule filler works
Depending on the design, the following events take place.
- Sandwich of cap and body rings are positioned under rectifier to receive the empty capsule and the caps are separated from the body by pulling the vacuum from beneath the sings.
- The body rings are then positioned under the foot of the powder hopper for filling process.
- The cap and body rings are rejoined and positioned in front of pins which push the bodies to engage of pins which push the bodies have been filled.
- The plate is then swung aside and the pins are used to eject the closed capsule.
Automatic encapsulator is a capsule filling machine that is developed and designed to automatically fill empty hard gelatin capsule with powders and granules. They are used in the large scale production of capsule. Automatic capsule filling machines are extremely durable and reliable when it comes to capsule filling and maintenance of the integrity of the filled capsules.
Automatic encapsulator can also work as a complete system of fully automatic capsule filling line by attaching additional equipment as online capsule polishing machine, dust extractor, damage capsule sorter and empty capsule ejector.
How automatic capsule filling machine works
Kasture P.V., Parakh S.R, Hassan S.A, and Gokhale S.B (2008). Pharmaceutics-1. Fifth edition. Nirali Prakashan, Pune.