Study of a low-dose capsule filling process by dynamic and static tests for advanced process understanding

Sandra Stranzinger, Eva Faulhammer, Otto Scheibelhofer, Vittorio Calzolari, Stefano Biserni, Amrit Paudel, Johannes Khinast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Precise filling of capsules with doses in the mg-range requires a good understanding of the filling process. Therefore, we investigated the various process steps of the filling process by dynamic and static mode tests. Dynamic tests refer to filling of capsules in a regular laboratory dosator filling machine. Static tests were conducted using a novel filling system developed by us. Three grades of lactose excipients were filled into size 3 capsules with different dosing chamber lengths, nozzle diameters and powder bed heights, and, in the dynamic mode, with two filling speeds (500, 3000 caps/h). The influence of the gap at the bottom of the powder container on the fill weight and variability was assessed. Different gaps resulted in a change in fill weight in all materials, although in different ways. In all cases, the fill weight of highly cohesive Lactohale 220 increased when decreasing the gap. Furthermore, experiments with the stand-alone static test tool indicated that this very challenging powder could successfully be filled without any pre-compression in the range of 5 mg–20 mg with acceptable RSDs. This finding is of great importance since for very fine lactose powders high compression ratios (dosing-chamber-length-to-powder-bed height compression ratios) may result in jamming of the piston. Moreover, it shows that the static mode setup is suitable for studying fill weight and variability.

Since cohesive powders, such as Lactohale 220, are hard to fill, we investigated the impact of vibration on the process. Interestingly, we found no correlation between the reported fill weight changes in dynamic mode at 3000 cph and static mode using similar vibration. However, we could show that vibrations during sampling in the static mode dramatically reduced fill weight variability.

Overall, our results indicate that by fine-tuning instrumental settings even very challenging powders can be filled with a low-dose dosator capsule filling machine. This study is a further step towards a scientific qualification of dosator nozzles for low-fill weight (1–45 mg) capsule filling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2018


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