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This VCU Chemical and Life Science Engineering student team is designing a tabletop gel encapsulation machine to produce ~50 capsules per minute enabling rapid changeover for research and development purposes for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. The preliminary design is based on reverse engineering of the large-scale encapsulation machine. Building from an initial prototype that included die rolls with variable rotation speed control and temperature control, the team identified and designed additional components to produce soft gel capsules: (1) producing gelatin ribbons from molten gelatin, (2) synchronizing the injection of medicine and capsule formation, and (3) ensuring that the capsules seal properly. While the large-scale machine requires a minimum batch size of 25 kg melt gelatin melt, the current design would produce hundreds of capsules from ~0.1 kg of melt gelatin.
The team’s resulting design is shown in the image below. With this design the team was able to produce gelatin ribbons from molten gelatin, time the injection of model fluid with capsule formation, and create the ability to produce ~50 capsules per minute using ~0.1 kg of melt gelatin. Future work will address sealing the capsules with heated die rolls, increasing the automation of the overall process, transitioning from the model fluid to medicine, and reducing the speed (rpm) of the die rolls.
Chemical and life science engineering, capsules, soft-gel, encapsulation, pharmaceutical engineering
John Bachert III
VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters
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