Powder compaction is widely used in several industrial sectors, such as ceramics, batteries, detergents, food, and pharmaceuticals. Tablets are most commonly made by either direct compression of powder or compression of a granular intermediate. Adequate physical strength of tablets is essential to maintain the quality of tablets by resisting fracture, abrasion, and chipping during manufacturing processes, transportation and shelf life. Currently the design of such tablet formulations is done by time-consuming trial-and-error experiments of formulation variants. Due to limitations in the number of such experiments that can be realistically performed, it is easy to arrive at formulations that are not truly optimised. A mechanistic approach to better understand the forces/bonds involved in achieving and maintaining tablet integrity is proposed. There have been many studies carried out over the last few decades related to bonding mechanisms involved in powder compacts, each reaching different and often conflicting conclusions. This highlights the challenge and supports the proposal for a more fundamental approach to formulation design with a view to increasing the possibility of ‘right first time’ development and manufacture of formulated products. AstraZeneca would like to develop a holistic approach to formulated product design based on better understanding of fundamental bonding mechanisms. The anticipated benefits of such an approach would be reduced development times, increased product quality and robustness of manufacturing processes.
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