The tablet pan coating process involves various types of transverse tablet bed motions, ranging from rolling to cascading. To preserve satisfactory results in terms of coating quality after scale-up, understanding the dynamics of pan coating process should be achieved. The aim of this study was to establish a methodology of estimating translational surface velocities of the tablets in a pan coater and to assess their dependence on the drum’s filling degree, the pan speed, the presence of baffles and the selected tablet properties in a dry bed system and during coating while varying the drum’s filling degree and the pan speed.
Experiments were conducted on the laboratory scale and on the pilot scale in side-vented pan coaters. Surface movement of biconvex two-layer tablets was assessed before, during and after the process of active coating. In order to determine the tablets’ surface flow velocities, a high-speed video of the tablet surface flow was recorded via a borescope inserted into the coating drum and analysed via a cross-correlation algorithm. The obtained tablet velocity data were arranged in a linear fashion as a function of the coating drum’s radius and frequency.
Velocity data obtained during coating were close to those of dry tablets after coating. The filling degree had little influence on the tablet velocity profile in a coating drum with baffles but clearly affected it in a coating drum without baffles. In most but not all cases, tablets with a lower static angle of repose had tablet velocity profiles with lower slopes than tablets with higher inter-tablet friction. This particular tablet velocity response can be explained by case specific values of tablet bed’s dynamic angle of repose.