How Hot Melt Extrusion Plays A Part In The Pharmaceuticals Industry
Hot melt extrusion, or HME, has been used for almost a century to melt down polymers and plastics and create new products. Although it excels at producing pipes and most cylindrically-shaped industrial objects, it also has applications in the pharmaceutical industry. If you are wondering how HME could be applied to the creation of medicines and pharmaceutical supplies, here is how it is currently used.
It may seem odd that such large machines could produce really tiny products, but the extruding end of these machines can be outfitted with just about any size extruding arm. That said, capsules, which are often made from biodegradable and edible substances, tend to be somewhat plastic in texture and perfectly formed. An HME machine melts and combines capsule ingredients before pushing out several capsule halves to be filled with medicine.
Many pills and medicines have a very unpleasant taste, which makes them difficult to swallow. HME machines create the enteric coating that allows patients to swallow their medicines without ever tasting the bitterness. This is especially important for patients who already have a difficult time swallowing their medications. Coatings that are necessary to slow down the metabolism of extended release medications are also created this way.
Pharmaceutical Products Placed Inside the Body
Intravaginal rings and other hard and cylindrical forms of birth control are now mass-produced by HME. Since a machine is able to extrude these medical devices with fewer flaws than a human being can, pharmaceutical companies prefer this process. Liquid medicines are applied during another stage of the manufacturing process, where it can be visually verified that the pharmaceuticals are applied fully and properly.
Not surprisingly, many HME industries also create and produce pill bottles for these meds. Separate machines process the plastic polymers used to create the commonly used, see-through orange pill bottles all Americans recognize and associate with medications. Pill bottles of less-often recognized shape, e.g., squares instead of cylinders, are produced by other manufacturing means.because HMEs rely on their twin modular screws and the screws' rotations to produce only cylindrical objects.
Exploring Other Pharmaceutical Applications
HMEs have the potential to create a lot more for the health and medical field. Ongoing research and development into what an HME can provide pharmaceutical companies will continue to benefit the drug companies who desire to process and bottle medications this way. It saves a lot of time and money to create the medications and package them within the same plant, rather than ship the medical devices and pills to another location to be packaged by another factory.