Some of the applications for which the pharmaceutical industry utilizes packaging machinery include cream and lotion manufacturing, tablet and capsule filling and encapsulation. In addition to the pharmaceutical industry, this type of packaging equipment is also utilized by the nutraceutical industry, which produces and markets supplements like garlic tablets, fish oil capsules and other products.
The key difference between nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals is that nutraceuticals are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and as a result do not have to adhere to their standards and regulations. Some of the standards required of pharmaceutical packaging are hypoallergenicity, child-resistance, tamper-resistance and other special properties that are unique or generally restricted to packaging for pharmaceutical products.
The most common type of packaging equipment used for pharmaceutical applications is a filling machine. Filling machines are used to take pre-made packaging, such as bottles or blister packs, and fill it with the correct amount of product; pharmaceutical product quantities can range anywhere from just a few pills to more than one hundred pills.
In addition to packaging machines to simply fill the pre-made packaging with tablets, capsules, cream, liquids and other products, there is a type of pharmaceutical packaging equipment referred to as a form-fill-seal machine, which boasts more features than a simple filling machine.
As the name suggests, a form-fill-seal machine has the capacity to form the packaging, fill the packaging with the appropriate product and then seal the packaging, most commonly through the application of heat. One of the most widely used and easily recognizable pharmaceutical packaging varieties is the translucent, brown medicine bottle.
While these are produced in large quantities for the dispensation of prescriptions, there is a wide range of other packaging varieties used for medicines; these include bags, pouches, cartons and many more examples. Typical supplies utilized in the packaging of pharmaceutical products include tape, film, dispensers, closures and packaging caps.