September 10, 2013
Tablet compression tooling is a big investment that should be protected by careful handling and thorough cleaning. Properly cleaned tools will last longer and produce higher quality tablets, which can also increase yield.
Clean punches and dies are essential to maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the tools used by manufacturers of dietary supplement tablets. Clean, effcicient tools also ensure the product quality. Dirty tools can cause tool binding, which can result in damage to the tooling and the tablet press. Keeping tools clean will decrease the chance of premature tool wear, allow more effective lubrication, and create more efficient machines. Proper cleaning and drying will prolong tool life and condition.
It's also critical that tools are rinsed and dried properly because any residue left from cleaning solution or water can cause corrosion or discoloration. Thorough drying is important to the cleaning process. According to the Tableting Specification Manual (TSM), After cleaning, tooling must be handled carefully to prevent moisture from the operators fingers remaining on the tooling and causing rust."
Manually scrubbing punches, dies and other instruments is perhaps the most traditional cleaning method. However, this method can be ineffective on heavily soiled tooling and can cause damage to delicate surfaces. Manually washing can also be time consuming, where as other methods, such as using an ultrasonic cleaner, can take less than 10 minutes and requires little supervision, which allows staff to spend time completing other tasks.
Ultrasonic cleaning has long been considered the most effective, nondestructive way to clean toolsfrom medical instruments to tablet tooling. It provides a gentle yet thorough solution to clean tools without damaging their delicate areas. Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency pressure waves to cause cavitation to agitate a liquid (usually cleaning solution and/or water), which in turn creates tiny bubbles that loosen and remove debris. This action is highly effective for removing traces of product and/or contaminants from tooling. The ultrasonic waves penetrate the surfaces of the tool, including hard-to-clean areas such as key slots, cups and die bores, and cause debris such as oil, grease and biological residue to break up and disperse.
Consequently, the TSM concluded, An ultrasonic bath is ideal for cleaning tooling." This high-tech cleaning process can save time and reduce cost; it is also environmentally friendly. New-generation models require much less energy and are more efficient to run than older models. The machines also require less water to clean more tools than manual cleaning, and the FDA-approved cleaning solution is non-ozone depleting.
Stephen Natoli is catalog and accessories manager at Natoli Engineering , which offers an ultrasonic cleaning set with wash, rinse and dry units, as well as a tabletop model.
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