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Manufacture Small Molecules, Technology and Equipment

Mixing It Up

This article was published in our sister publication, The Small Molecule Manufacturer, which celebrates the field of small molecule drug development and manufacturing with interviews and articles focusing on success stories, equipment, and new processing techniques.

Read more about The Small Molecule Manufacturer here

How have pharmaceutical mixing systems changed over the years?

In the past, no matter whether producing a coating, gel or granulated product, simple propeller stirrers were used to mix solids into a liquid. There were disadvantages associated with air intake, as well as long and non-reproducible processes, and insufficient dispersion. Some problems could even lead to system shutdown in subsequent steps, such as dosing or coating. For example, if the active ingredient volatilizes during degassing or due to non-optimal dispersion, agglomerates are still present and can interfere with other equipment, such as clogging coater nozzles.

Mixing technology has, fortunately, come a long way since then. Today, it is possible to wet and disperse the powders directly via a vacuum expansion method when inducted into the liquid. Other technologies are also available, but tend to include a long dispersion time and mechanical impact, which leads to the need to then cool the process. In my view, vacuum expansion offers numerous advantages, including better product quality and reproducibility, as well as dust-free power handling. Modern mixing systems also offer shorter production times through improved efficiency and are usually easier to clean. Many systems today are designed to be cleaned in place, for example, and have other design features that improve cleaning.

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