Methods for the practical determination of the mechanical strength of tablets—From empiricism to science

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This review aims to awake an interest in the determination of the tensile strength of tablets of various shapes using a variety of direct and indirect test methods. The United States Pharmacopoeia monograph 1217 (USP35/NF30, 2011) has provided a very good approach to the experimental determination of and standards for the mechanical strength of tablets. Building on this monograph, it is hoped that the detailed account of the various methods provided in this review will encourage industrial and academic scientists involved in the development and manufacture of tablet formulations to take a step forward and determine the tensile strength of tablets, even if these are not simply flat disc-shaped or rectangular. To date there are a considerable number of valid test configurations and stress equations available, catering for many of the various shapes of tablets on the market. The determination of the tensile strength of tablets should hence replace the sole determination of a breaking force, because tensile strength values are more comparable and suggestions for minimum and/or maximum values are available. The review also identifies the gaps that require urgent filling. There is also a need for further analysis using, for example, Finite Element Method, to provide correct stress solutions for tablets of differing shapes, but this also requires practical experiments to find the best loading conditions, and theoretical stress solutions should be verified with practical experiments.

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