3 In-Demand Industrial & cGMP Blending Capabilities
Justin Klinger, Dec 17, 2020 5:45:00 AM
Working with a toll processor, you can achieve a range of blending goals without a huge investment in specialized equipment or in-house experts. While blending may sound like a simple process, many industries and product categories can demand specialized blending capabilities, including:
- Blending dry ingredients
- Blending micronized or nanonized materials (which often agglomerate)
- Liquid blending
- Liquid dispersion
- Hot melt extrusion
A toll manufacturer adept at a wide variety of blending methods can offer advantages for industrial and cGMP applications. Your toll processor’s team of material scientists, engineers, and technical operators can determine the best equipment and process variables for your materials and desired outcome, saving you time and money.
Let’s take a look at three in-demand blending categories for applications with industrial and cGMP customers.
Working With a Toll Processor for Industrial and cGMP Blending
An experienced toll processor can achieve your blending goals faster and more efficiently than you could on your own. Choosing the right blending technology from the start can help you avoid process problems like:
- Ingredient degradation due to friction-generated heat
- Undesired particle size reduction
- Unwanted particle surface effects (for example, a highly abrasive constituent material can “polish” or alter other particle surfaces in a blend)
- Contamination risks
- Oxidation or combustion threats
Specialized expertise can also enable you to meet safety and regulatory requirements, especially in cGMP fields like food and pharmaceuticals.
To enable your toll processor’s team to make the most informed decisions, it's vital to provide comprehensive material information, including:
- Raw feed material conditions
- Safety data sheets (SDSs)
- Packaging formats at delivery
- Final product targets
- Temperature limits
- Oxidation issues
The more material insights you share, the more efficiently your toll processor can achieve your blending goals.
1. Mechanical Blending Processes
Mechanical methods exert various forces on material to commingle the particles. Equipment includes blenders with agitators or paddles, as well as tumbler-style blenders. Beads or other milling media may also be added to de-agglomerate particles.
One effective mechanical option is the ribbon blender. These have two helical, ribbon-shaped agitators that move in opposite directions inside a horizontal trough. Ribbon blenders can be useful for powders, liquids, emulsions, and dispersions (which can include pastes that range from industrial pigments to cosmetics).
Many liquids and powders are easy to disperse using mechanical blending. The force of the agitators may be enough to homogenize the mixture. But for micronized or nanonized materials that can clump or agglomerate, media milling offers a solution.
In dry blending, media mills can tumble powders with glass, steel, or plastic beads. They can also be used in a wet process. The slurry may include a liquid constituent of the final blend, or a liquid medium that is later separated after blending. Technical specialists ensure optimal mill speeds, media, and slurry contents to control for particle size and surface effects.
2. Blending in Jet Mills
Jet mills can blend materials ranging from industrial chemicals and automotive coatings to pharmaceuticals. The use of compressed gas rather than knives, blades, or paddles reduces potential contamination risks, which can be an important consideration in cGMP projects.
In jet blending, finely milled powdered materials can be fed into the mill. Jet processing can also be used to add in liquid ingredients, or to make fine adjustments to moisture content. Various compressed gas options can control for oxidation or even make it possible to jet blend combustible materials. Process controls including gas selection, air pressure, time, and other factors ensure an end result that conforms to specifications.
Fluidized bed jet mills can also achieve highly homogenized blends for specialty projects involving very finely milled materials. In a fluid bed, the process can be tightly controlled and can include coating particles in a liquid or finely milled dry material. This surface coating capability offers benefits in industries from food and pharmaceuticals to pigments and industrial chemicals.
3. Extrusion Blending or Compounding
Extrusion blending and compounding can be complex, and require a specialized toll processor with the right equipment, scientific expertise, and process experience.
Compounding equipment can include single-screw or twin-screw extruders. For complex technical requirements, a toll processor can operate extrusion equipment with a range of variable process controls including temperature, pressure, shear force, degassing, and specialized capabilities for reactive compounding.
For pharmaceuticals, cGMP hot melt extrusion processes can be used to introduce excipients to to achieve a range of outcomes without the need for solvents, including:
- Improving active ingredient solubility
- Controlling bioavailability of potent ingredients
- Masking bitter or undesirable flavors
The same methods can also blend plastic and polymer materials for industrial applications. Two or more resin types can be blended for a resulting compound that meets exacting specifications. Extrusion can also be used to add fillers to control material costs, or to add non-polymer materials for reinforcement.
The resulting material often needs to be further processed into pellets or granules before delivery. A toll processor should be able to provide these added processing services and quality assurance through every step.
The Right Processor Can Make Complex Blending an Easy Choice
It takes an exacting combination of material science knowledge, engineering know-how, and hands-on technical experience to select the most appropriate blending methods and equipment, and to optimize processes to achieve uniform, highly homogenized blends that meet your target specifications.
No one piece of equipment or process can meet every customer’s blending needs, but an experienced toll processor can help you quickly arrive at a custom process solution that meets your needs from start to finish.
If you’re ready to learn more about blending, starting with a focus on cGMP blending services, just click on the link below to download Blending for Pharmaceuticals: A Guide for Selecting Your Trusted Toll Processor. And if you’ve got questions or need to inquire about what’s possible, get in touch with us here.