We often take drug or supplement capsule-shaped, but have we all understand about the materials used or the manufacturing process? We start with how the capsule was coming ... ..

Gelatin capsule was first patented by FAB. Mothes, students and Dublanc, a pharmacist. They obtained the patent in 1834, covers a method for producing gelatin capsules consisting of one section, oval-shaped, covered with a drop of hot concentrated solution of gelatin after charging. The use of gelatin capsules are spread even produced by many countries in Europe and America. Restricted the use of gelatin capsules patent on a particular company, sparked two new capsule form. In 1839 in Paris, Garot create a thin layer coated products, gelatin-coated pills. In 1846 another pharmacist, J.C. Lebhubby patented capsule 2 parts which is still used.

Hard capsule was first mass produced in the United States in the 19th century. Capsules are readily accepted by consumers due to the attractive appearance and its structure is designed such a way that is easy to swallow. In principle, the capsule can condition with a variety of materials in the form of powder to liquid oil-based....

Gelatin : The main ingredients of making capsule shells

Gelatin is a natural product, a solid substance is tasteless, colorless, and translucent obtained from partial hydrolysis of collagen.

In principle, the gelatin can be made from materials that are rich in collagen such as skin, connective tissue, organs, intestines and bones of animals just as pigs, horses, cattle or other animals. However, if made from leather and cow bone or other large animals, the process become longer and require water for washing / neutralizing (chemicals) are more, so that less developed because it requires huge investment so that prices become more expensive.

While the gelatin from pigs is much cheaper than other food additives. That is because pigs easily bred. Pigs can eat anything, including their own children. Pigs can live under any conditions even if very dirty. In terms of growth, pork is promising. A pig can give birth to twenty children at once. Since it is very easy to develop, products derived from pigs very much.

Current annual production of gelatin can reach 300 thousand tons per year worldwide,

Characteristics of Gelatin
Gelatin is a soluble protein that can behave as a gelling agent (gel-making material) or as non-gelling agent. Sources of raw materials derived from cows can be gelatin (bones and hide), pig (only (skin) and fish (skin).

Gelatin melts when heated, but will soon become solid again when cooled. When mixed with water, gelatin will form a solution with high viscosity which will also be a solid (gel) when cooled.

Although most of the composition of gelatin is a protein, gelatin less nutritional value than other protein sources. This is because the protein constituent of gelatin is a type of non essential amino acids (glycine and proline), which can be produced in the body. While on the other hand, less gelatin containing essential amino acids (isoleucine, threonine, and methionine) and do not contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid to another.

Some have considered that gelatin good for hair and nail growth, but this claim is not supported by sufficient scientific data.

Hard Gelatin Capsule Manufacturing steps :
1. Before capsule manufacturing start, first all raw materials should be released by Quality Control and all equipment should be validated.

2. First step is make gelatin solution 25-30% : gelatin and hot demineralized water are mixed under vacuum in Gelatin Melting System.

 3. After aging in stainless steel receiving tanks, the gelatin solution is transferred to stainless steel feed tanks.

4. Dyes, opacifants, preservative and any needed water are added to the gelatin in the feed tanks. The feed tanks are then used to gravity-feed gelatin into the machine for making capsules.

5. From the feed tank, the gelatin is gravity fed to dipper section. Here, the capsules are moulded onto stainless steel Pin Bars which are dipped into the gelatin solution. Once dipped, the Pin Bars rise to the upper deck allowing the cap and body to set on the Pins. The Pin Bars pass through the upper and lower kilns of Capsule Machine Drying System.

6. Here gently moving air which is precisely controlled for volume, temperature, and humidity, removes the exact amount of moisture from the capsule halves. Precision controls constantly monitor humidity, temperature, and gelatin viscosity throughout the production process.

 7. Once drying is complete, the Pin Bars enter the Table section which positions the capsule halves for stripping from the Pins in the Automatic section. In the Automatic section, capsule halves are individually stripped from the Pins.

8. The cap and body lengths are precisely trimmed to a ±0.15 mm tolerance. The capsule bodies and caps are joined automatically in the joiner blocks. 

9. Finished capsules are pushed onto a conveyer belt which carries them out to a container.

10. Capsule quality is monitored throughout the production process including size, moisture content, single wall thickness, and color

11. Capsules are sorted and visually inspected.
12. Capsules are now ready to be sterilized and packaged.

Around the world, gelatin production process is done according to standard ISO 9001 Quality Management System to ensure the quality of the resulting gelatin. Special gel that is used for pharmaceutical preparations, eg for shell capsules, must meet the standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Pharmacopoeia.

Picture source from:
1. PT. KAPSULINDO NUSANTARA, Gunung Putri, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia.