Impact of Particle and Equipment Properties on Residence Time Distribution of Pharmaceutical Excipients in Rotary Tablet Presses

Paddle feeders are devices commonly used in rotary tablet presses to facilitate constant and efficient die filling. Adversely, the shear stress applied by the rotating paddles is known to affect the bulk properties of the processed powder dependent on the residence time. This study focuses on the residence time distribution (RTD) of two commonly applied excipients (microcrystalline cellulose, MCC; dicalcium phosphate, DCP), which exhibit different flow properties inside rotary tablet presses. To realistically depict the powder flow inside rotary tablet presses, custom-made tracer powder was developed. The applied method was proven to be appropriate as the tracer and bulk powder showed comparable properties. The RTDs of both materials were examined in two differently scaled rotary tablet presses and the influence of process parameters was determined. To analyze RTDs independent of the mass flow, the normalized variance was used to quantify intermixing. Substantial differences between both materials and tablet presses were found. Broader RTDs were measured for the poorer flowing MCC as well as for the production scale press. The obtained results can be used to improve the general understanding of powder flow inside rotary tablet presses and amplify scale-up and continuous production process development.


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