To say that softgel capsule suppliers and manufacturers deliver a diverse product range is something of an understatement. The market is packed with a huge variety of softgel types, in plenty of different shapes, sizes, and configurations. Some, of course, are more common than others.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at the most common softgel capsule types provided by manufacturers and suppliers around the world. We’ll also be examining some of the newcomers in the market, which are currently adding to that diversity. Read on to discover more.
Common Softgel Delivery Methods
The most common types of softgel on the market fall into one of four delivery categories – this simply refers to the way in which the medication’s active ingredients enter the body.
Many softgels are designed to be highly degradable, melting away within the stomach to release the active ingredient. They are also intended to be easy for the patient to swallow, eliminating the discomfort of taking pills or other harsher forms of medication.
Some softgels may be built for chewing – the patient consumes them in the same way they might consume candy or another foodstuff. These softgels will be strongly flavored, and will be designed so that the active ingredient is released into the patient’s mouth ahead of swallowing.
Other softgels may be intended to be sucked, which will also discharge the active ingredient within the patient’s mouth as well as in the stomach. This type of softgel may feature strong flavoring to improve the patient experience, but it may be constructed from a more resistant material that does not immediately melt away.
Less common are twistable softgels – capsules that are designed with a tab feature that can be quickly and easily removed to access the active ingredients within. The patient can then pour the ingredients directly into their mouth, and they do not need to swallow the softgel material at all.
Suppository and Pessary Usage
While most softgels are designed for oral usage, softgel materials may also be used in suppository and pessary – or vaginal – medication delivery.
Common Softgel Materials
Traditionally, the defining feature of the softgel capsule has been its material. The word itself is a portmanteau of the words “soft” and “gelatin.” This is a capsule made out of a soft and easily digestible form of gelatin, in contrast to harder gelatinous capsules that may be more difficult for patients to take.
However, the composition of the softgel material might be different. Products that are designed to melt away might be more biodegradable than a product that is designed to be chewed. There are other forms of softgel capsules in the modern market too, and we’ll discuss these a little later on.
Common Softgel Shapes
Softgel capsule manufacturers deliver products in various shapes. While this variety is limited only by the creativity of the manufacturer and the infrastructure available to them, some options are more common than others.
Round softgels are commonly seen in the market. These softgels appear almost spherical in shape, and the active ingredient is contained within the center. Round softgels are very useful for delivering small doses of medication, although problems can begin to arise when the dosage volume increases. At a higher volume, round softgels can become quite large and ungainly, making them difficult to swallow – especially for younger patients.
The appearance of an oval softgel is very similar to that of its round counterpart, only the oval version appears a little squashed. This increases the potential volume of the softgel, as increased volume extends the length of the capsule without impacting its height dimension too greatly, so it remains easy to swallow.
Rectangular or Oblong
Despite the name, these capsules are not truly rectangular or oblong, or cuboid at all. Instead, they resemble a small cylinder with two rounded ends. The benefit of these capsules is similar to that of the oval capsule – the manufacturer can increase the dosage where required while retaining ease of use for the patient.
Tubs are slightly larger forms of softgel, designed to carry higher dosage volumes.
Some capsules feature shapes that support their intended use cases. The manufacturer bears the intended form of medication delivery in mind when they design and develop these specialized products.
We mentioned the twist-off delivery method above. This type of medication delivery requires a very specific capsule shape, with a tab fitted to one end that the user can grasp and twist. A weakness is built into the ‘neck’ of the capsule by the softgel manufacturer, between the tab and the body, to enable easy access to the medication within.
Suppository and Pessary
Suppository and pessary softgels are developed with a distinctive teardrop shape that makes bodily insertion easier and offers a comfortable experience for the patient.
Common Softgel Dimensions
Softgels are available in different sizes, typically measured in minims. A minim is one-sixtieth of a fluid dram and is roughly the same as a single drop of liquid.
- Round softgels start at 1 minim and may be as large as 20 minims.
- Oval softgels range from 2 minims to 20 minims.
- Oblong softgels range from 3 minims to 24 minims.
- Suppository and pessary softgels range from 6 minims to 17 minims.
- Twist-off softgels range from 6 minims to 22 minims.
- Tub softgels are available from 8 minims to 30 minims.
These are just the rated capacities for each type of softgel, and there may be very slight variations in the dosages contained in each product.
Softgel Market Newcomers
Recent years have seen softgel capsule manufacturers and suppliers launch new products into the market, providing competition for the more traditional softgel types out there.
There have always been lots of softgel shapes on the market, but manufacturer technology is advancing quickly, and this is increasing the diversity. Softgel manufacturers can now produce gel products in almost any shape – from stars and crescent moons to animal shapes and many more. These new shapes can help with brand recognition and can also assist parents who want to encourage their children with supervised supplement doses.
The gelatin content of traditional softgels means that they are not suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets. New technologies can produce non-animal-based alternatives to these gelatin products, supporting those whose diets preclude them from taking traditional softgels. These products are expanding the scope of softgels and making them more accessible for people who cannot ingest gelatin for health, ethical, or religious reasons.
The Chemtech Range – Supporting Softgel Capsule Manufacturers and Suppliers
Our range of softgel capsule trays supports suppliers and manufacturers with the solutions they need. Check out our product pages to learn more, or reach out to our team today.