Tablet coating by injection molding technology – Optimization of coating formulation attributes and coating process parameters
We developed and evaluated a solvent-free injection molding (IM) coating technology that could be suitable for continuous manufacturing via incorporation with IM tableting. Coating formulations (coating polymers and plasticizers) were prepared using hot-melt extrusion and screened via stress-strain analysis employing a universal testing machine. Selected coating formulations were studied for their melt flow characteristics. Tablets were coated using a vertical injection molding unit. Process parameters like softening temperature, injection pressure, and cooling temperature played a very important role in IM coating processing. IM coating employing polyethylene oxide (PEO) based formulations required sufficient room humidity (>30% RH) to avoid immediate cracks, whereas other formulations were insensitive to the room humidity. Tested formulations based on Eudrajit E PO and Kollicoat IR had unsuitable mechanical properties. Three coating formulations based on hydroxypropyl pea starch, PEO 1,000,000 and Opadry had favorable mechanical (<700 MPa Young’s modulus, >35% elongation, >95 × 104 J/m3 toughness) and melt flow (>0.4 g/min) characteristics, that rendered acceptable IM coats. These three formulations increased the dissolution time by 10, 15 and 35 min, respectively (75% drug release), compared to the uncoated tablets (15 min). Coated tablets stored in several environmental conditions remained stable to cracking for the evaluated 8-week time period.