The right capsule filling technology turns an inherently complicated process into a fast, accurate system with minimal product waste and precision dosing capabilities. The FEC20 and FEC40 encapsulators from Fette Compacting will integrate seamlessly into your automated production line to improve efficiency in your operation.
What is a Capsule Filling Machine?
Capsule filling machines precisely fill empty capsule units with solids or fluids. The encapsulation process is used in a variety of industries, such as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and more. Capsule fillers work with a wide variety of solids, including granules, pellets, powders, and tablets. Some encapsulation machines can also handle capsule filling for liquids of different viscosities.
Types of Automatic Capsule Filling Machines
Capsule machines typically get categorized based on the types of capsules they fill and the filling method itself.
Soft Gel vs. Hard Gel Capsules
Hard gel capsules are made from two hard shells— a body and cap—that lock together after filling. These capsules are usually filled with solid materials. Conversely, gelatins and liquids are more commonly filled into soft-gel capsules.
Manual vs. Semi-Automatic vs. Fully-Automatic Machines
Various machine types each use different filling techniques to best accommodate the unique needs of the filler substance.
- Manual encapsulator machines are operated by hand, allowing operators to combine ingredients into the individual capsules during the filling process.
- Semi-automatic capsule fillers have a loading ring that transports the capsules to a filling point, where the desired contents then get added to each capsule. These machines minimize touch points, making them more hygienic than manual processes.
- Fully-automatic encapsulation machines feature a variety of continuous processes that minimize the amount of human intervention, thereby mitigating the risk of unintentional error. These capsule fillers are commonly used in high-volume production for standard capsule products.
How Does a Capsule Filling Machine Work?
Most modern capsule filling machines follow the same, basic five-step process:
- Feeding. During the feeding process capsules get loaded into the machine. A series of channels controls each capsule’s direction and orientation, ensuring that the body is at the bottom and the cap is at the top once they reach the spring-loaded end of each channel. This allows operators to quickly fill machines with empty capsules.
- Separating. In the separation stage, the capsule heads are wedged into position. Vacuum systems then pull the bodies loose to open the capsules. The machine will take note of capsules that don’t properly separate so they can be removed and disposed of.
- Filling. This stage differs depending on the type of solid or liquid that will fill the capsule body. One common mechanism is a tamping pin station, where powders get added to the body of the capsule and are then compressed multiple times with tamping punches to condense the powder into a uniform shape (referred to as a “slug”) that won’t interfere with the closing process. Other filling options include intermittent dosator filling and vacuum filling, among others.
- Closing. Following the completion of the filling stage, the capsules need to be closed and locked. The trays holding the caps and bodies are aligned, and then pins push the bodies up and force them into a locked position against the caps.
- Discharging / ejection. Once closed, capsules are raised in their cavities and get ejected from the machine via a discharge chute. They are typically cleaned to remove any excess material from their exterior. The capsules can then be collected and packaged for distribution.