The Pharmaceutics and Compounding Laboratory

Capsule Machines

Capsule machines are available for filling 50, 100, and 300 capsules at a time. Each manufacturer's machine is slightly different in its operation, but the series of operations is the same. Capsules are first loaded into the machine. Most machines come with a capsule loader which correctly aligns all of the capsules in the machine base. There are plates on the machine base that can be adjusted. First, the plates are adjusted to hold the capsule bodies in place while the caps are removed all at one time. The caps remain in place in the top of the machine for later use. Then the plates are adjusted again so that the capsule bodies will "drop" into place so that the tops are flush with the working surface of the plate.

The formulation powder is poured onto the plate and special spreaders and combs are used to fill the individual capsules. Some manufacturer's have special shakers that will also help spread the powder and fill the capsules. The powder is spread evenly over the plate, and the comb is used to tamp and pack the powder into the capsules. These two processes are repeated over and over again until the capsule bodies are filled with the powder. All of the caps are then simultaneously returned to the capsule bodies, and the closed capsules are removed from the machine.

The machine has the advantage of filling many capsules in a timely manner. However, there is a tendency to pack the capsules in the middle of the plate with more powder than the capsules along the periphery. It takes practice to ensure that each capsule has the same amount of drug. A quality control procedure should be executed with each batch of capsules produced with the machine.