Trays are used in the pharmaceutical manufacturing of gel capsules as the main means of transportation during the drying process. There is a range of products that fulfill this duty, but there are many problems that make choosing the best product for the job a difficult decision. These seven factors demonstrate what you should take into consideration before purchasing gel capsule drying trays for your production line.

Chemtech International has been working with top tier manufacturers throughout the world for over 30 years. And during this time the company has collected detailed information about the complete range of drying trays and options available to pharmaceutical manufacturers. This information has been assimilated into this document so that other professionals can learn more from the company’s combined experience.

Picture1-1 Soft Gel Capsule Drying Trays: Problems & Solutions
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7 Common Problems for Drying Trays

1. Breakage

Trays can become damaged when dropped or moving around the production facility. Plastic trays can break easily if dropped or roughly handled. Metal and composite materials offer greater durability and resistance to shattering, cracking or bending. So metal and composite trays are the clear winners in this area.

Metal trays can be prone to bending under load. Composite materials perform better under heavy loads and are more resistant to warping. In the common scenario of a tray being dropped, there is a great chance of the metal trays being dented or deformed, but metal does stay intact in most cases. Particulate contamination is also more of a concern with metal trays. Composite materials have the overall advantage in this area due to more advanced material design.

Picture2 Soft Gel Capsule Drying Trays: Problems & Solutions
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2. Temperature Change

Extreme heat or cold can produce a range of effects in trays depending on the material and construction. Plastic doesn’t deal well with heat and will melt at higher temperatures, and at lower temperatures, it is more vulnerable to breakage. Metal and composite materials win again in this area as they are able to handle a much wider range of temperatures. FRP composite material trays can withstand sustained temperatures ranging from -60F to 250F.

Resistance to warping and cracking is crucial when dealing with temperature changes in the manufacturing process. Metal performs well in this regard, but high-quality Composites are able to maintain complete structural integrity through a wider range of temperatures.

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3. Weight of Drying Trays

Another consideration is the density of the materials. Metal is the denser material and more cumbersome to move around when compared to plastic or composite materials. The lighter weight is a positive attribute that makes handling the trays easier and less problematic.

For the same size/dimensions tray plastic and composite materials are very close in density, so weight is not a major difference between these two types. Metal, on the other hand, will usually be 3-4 times the weight. So plastic or composite dying trays are clearly superior in regards to their overall weight.

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4. Corrosion of Drying Trays

For the same size/dimensions tray plastic and composite materials are very close in density, so weight is not a major difference between these two types. Metal, on the other hand, will usually be 3-4 times the weight. So plastic or composite dying trays are clearly superior in regards to their overall weight.

Plastics can deteriorate when exposed to solvents or other caustic substances depending on the exact type and exposure time. Composite materials are able to withstand a wider range of chemical exposure without effect when designed for a specific environment.

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5. Range of Size & Style Options of Drying Trays

It’s a problem if you can’t get a tray customized to meet a particular manufacturing environment or need. Having a wider range of size and style options is directly related to how difficult and costly it is to change the machines that produce the trays. Composite and plastic trays are able to be shaped and sized differently more easily, so are the winner in this category.

FRP composite trays offer many sizes to choose from with various options. You can order trays with drop ends, drop sides, and both drops ends plus drops sides to maximize your airflow. These options give you faster drying times, which in turn helps efficiency and reduces cost. Composite trays with additional slots on the tray bottom are also available to further enhance drying times.

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6. Ease of Cleaning Drying Trays

Regular cleaning and after exposure is important to quality control. Porous materials are problematic because substances tend to stick more to textured surfaces. Metal performs poorly in this area as the material is inherently less smooth.

Composite soft gel trays are very easy to clean since their surface is extremely smooth and non-porous. The material is pH tolerant 3.0 – 10.0. The trays can be routinely cleaned using a variety of methods from steam bath to hand cleaning. Ease of cleaning also adds time and cost benefit to the overall manufacturing cycle.

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7. Longevity

The overall value of gel capsule drying trays involves a calculation of its cost combined with the lifetime of the tray. Composite materials and metal trays have a much longer life span because of their reduced failure rate over time. There are trays still being used after 30+ years of continuous use.

Factoring in the lifetime performance of trays can be a major cost benefit to the manufacturing process. Instead of having to order repeatedly throughout the process it’s possible to make the trays a one-time expense.

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Breakdown of Drying Tray Solutions

  • The only advantages of plastic drying trays offer are ease of cleaning and resistance to corrosion. They are vulnerable to the other five problems.
  • Metal trays are heavy and have problems with corrosion.
  • Composite trays perform well against all seven problems.

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Conclusion

Overall, the winner for the best choice for gel capsule drying trays is Composite Trays. Composite materials offer a wider range of benefits and no real downside. There are very little negative aspects of composites, and they offer significantly more value compared to other tray types. It makes sense that more advanced technology would produce a higher quality product. Be sure to take all of these factors into consideration before making a buying decision.

FRP Composite trays are made from a proprietary fiberglass blend. This material’s formula allows the trays to be extremely strong, durable and temperature resistant. FRP Composite trays will not bend or warp over time. The material conforms to FDA Title 21 Section C and is NSF compliant.

The most advanced FRP Composite trays are currently manufactured in the USA. They require sophisticated manufacturing facilities and high-grade source materials to comply with all FDA and NSF regulations. Quality control and specifications need to be highly controlled to maintain high-performance characteristics of these products.