Ultrasonic real-time in-die monitoring of the tablet compaction process—A proof of concept study

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The mechanical properties of a drug tablet can affect its performance (e.g., dissolution profile and its physical robustness. An ultrasonic system for real-time in-die tablet mechanical property monitoring during compaction has been demonstrated. The reported set-up is a proof of concept compaction monitoring system which includes an ultrasonic transducer mounted inside the upper punch of the compaction apparatus. This upper punch is utilized to acquire ultrasonic pressure wave phase velocity waveforms and extract the time-of-flight of pressure waves travelling within the compact at a number of compaction force levels during compaction. The reflection coefficients for the waves reflecting from punch tip–powder bed interface are extracted from the acquired waveforms. The reflection coefficient decreases with an increase in compaction force, indicating solidification. The data acquisition methods give an average apparent Young's moduli in the range of 8–20 GPa extracted during the compaction and release/decompression phases in real-time. A monitoring system employing such methods is capable of determining material properties and the integrity of the tablet during compaction. As compared to the millisecond time-scale dwell time of a typical commercial compaction press, the micro-second pulse duration and ToF of an acoustic pulse are sufficiently fast for real-time monitoring.

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