Prior to coating, tablets are usually stored for a definite period to enable complete strain recovery and prevent subsequent volumetric expansion-related coating defects. In-line coating is defined as the coating of tablets immediately after compaction. In-line coating will be expected to improve manufacturing efficiencies. In this study, the possibility of in-line coating was studied by evaluating the influence of compaction and coating on tablet dimensional changes. The use of tapered dies for compaction was also evaluated. Two types of tablet coaters which presented different coating environments, namely the Supercell™ coater and pan coater, were employed for coating. The extent of tablet dimensional changes was studied in real time using optical laser sensors in a controlled environment. After compaction, tablet dimensional changes were found to be anisotropic. In contrast, coating resulted in isotropic volume expansion in both the axial and radial directions. Pan coating resulted in significantly greater tablet dimensional changes compared to Supercell™ coating. There was no significant difference in dimensional changes of tablets coated in line or after complete viscoelastic strain recovery for Supercell™ coating. However, significantly different dimensional changes were observed for pan coating. The use of tapered dies during compaction was found to result in more rapid viscoelastic strain recovery and also significantly reduced tablet dimensional changes when tablets were immediately coated after compaction using the pan coater. In conclusion, the Supercell™ coater appeared to be more suitable for in-line tablet coating, while tapered dies were beneficial in reducing tablet dimensional changes when the pan coater was employed for in-line coating.
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