Medical marijuana usage is greatly increasing around the world. Although the drug has previously been considered taboo, the benefits of medical marijuana cannot be disputed. More than an estimated 2,604,079 Americans currently use medical marijuana to help them control symptoms in their day-to-day lives.
While the drug may be smoked, vaporized, or eaten, there is also the possibility for manufacturers to create marijuana softgels. Although softgel encapsulation is not a new concept in the pharmaceutical or nutraceutical industry, it is relatively new to the medical marijuana industry. As such, medical marijuana manufacturers will need to ensure their production processes are equipped to meet the growing demand for marijuana softgels.
One of the most important parts of softgel manufacturing is the drying process. There are various ways to dry marijuana softgels, and drying them improperly could lead to lost time and money.
Pre-Drying and Drying Tunnels
The type of drying system you use will be dependent on what type of softgel machines you’re using. Manufacturers looking to produce softgels at a lab scale will use a tumble dryer with only one basket. Because lab scale production is more so for research and testing purposes, output is not the main priority. You’ll likely be producing fewer capsules, meaning that one tumble dryer will be sufficient to keep up with the output of your softgel machine.
Additionally, if you’re looking to produce capsules at a commercial scale, you’ll have a larger capsule capacity output. In this case, you’ll need more baskets in your tumble dryer. Depending on your softgel machine, you have the option of choosing a tumble dryer with ten baskets. Still not enough? There are also tumble dryers that come equipped with 24 baskets if you’re looking for maximum drying output.
In the drying tunnels, the capsules are spread onto trays after the pre-drying stage and are left to dry for a few days.
However, this drying process may not be for everyone.
In-Line Drying Systems
Are you uncomfortable with the thought of leaving money on the table because of the lengthy drying time requirements of drying tunnels? Are you looking to speed up the process without under-drying your capsules? Don’t want to wait days for the final product? If so, there are other options for your drying needs.
The in-line drying system is a continuous drying system. Your softgels go directly from the softgel encapsulation process into the drying system, and they emerge as fully dried capsules, ready for packaging. The process is a breeze from start to finish, which is why many marijuana softgel manufacturers prefer in-line drying systems.
It’s important to note this type of drying system can only be used on oil-based capsules, which is perfect for the medical marijuana manufacturing process, but inconvenient if you are looking to produce other types of capsules as well. If you produce more than oil-based softgels, the pre-dryers and drying tunnels will be the more suitable option for your production needs.
Repercussions of Under-Drying
Under-drying your softgel capsules can cost you excess production time and money. When a capsule does not dry properly, it becomes sticky and malleable. Improperly dried capsules will stick to one another and could tear once separated, creating a leak. If your entire batch is not dried properly, this will render all your produced capsules useless.
Repercussions of Over-Drying
Like under-drying, over-drying your marijuana softgels is equally as concerning. When too much moisture is removed from the gelatin formation, the capsule can become brittle. This can result from too long of a drying time or too hot of a temperature.
Brittle capsules are weak and can break, which will cause a leak in your production line. Similar to under-drying your capsules, if one capsule in the batch is brittle, it’s likely that they’re all brittle, which means you’ll have to start again.