Iron oxide colouring for gelatine based drug capsules

Published: 3-May-2022

A tablet capsule manufacturer have purchased a number of mixers for their manufacturing site, including an Ultramix and a UHS In-Line mixer for a new application

The company is a major supplier of gelatine capsules for the pharmaceutical industry. They design, develop and manufacture a range of innovative solutions to help their customers improve 'swallowability' of capsules and provide visually appealing dosage forms.

The company currently have 7 Silverson mixers at one of their manufacturing sites, the first of which was purchased back in 1998! They also have mixers at many of their other sites across the world including the USA and Mexico. As previous customers of Silverson they came to us for help when developing a new product. 

As part of a new process they are currently working on incorporation of various iron oxides as colouring agents to create reds, yellows and purples. Although iron oxides are generally supplied in pre-micronised form, the particles tend to re-agglomerate and form hard lumps which conventional agitation cannot disperse. This leads to poor yield and an uneven colour dispersion or flecks in the finished capsule. A high shear mixer is require to reduce the particles back down to their finest constituent parts.

Trials were run at Silverson to establish the minimum particle size the colour pigments could be reduced down to. Using an 80 litre tank, gelatine and iron oxide pigments were added into the vessel and dispersed using an Ultramix mixer. A UHS In-Line mixer on a recirculation loop was then used to reduce the particle size of the iron oxide.

After running the dispersion through the UHS In-Line for a short period of time, the product was then tested on a particle size analyser (Malvern Mastersizer). The result indicated that the particles had been reduced to a much smaller size than the company had previously achieved and they were happy with the results of the trial. 

Consequently, the company ordered the mixers so they can continue working on producing colourful, gelatine based capsules for the pharmaceutical market.

You can find out more about how to disperse Gelatine using Silverson mixers by reading our application report, or watching the 'how to mix Gelatine' video above.

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