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Smart multi-functional machine for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, and food

New technologies in production and processing systems offer constant improvements, particularly in terms of reducing consumption of raw materials and energy. EIRICH has developed an energy-efficient five-liter C5 processor for applications that are sensitive to contamination and have strict hygiene requirements. The EIRICH mixer combines multiple process steps into a single unit and is a universal machine for both laboratory development and small-scale production.

Areas like this, which are sensitive to contamination and have strict hygiene requirements, often present companies with new challenges. New technologies must meet stringent quality and hygiene demands. At the same time, the topic of sustainability is also becoming ever more important. Companies need to design their processes to be compact and must keep the number of units low to ensure that processing is cost-effective and hygienic. When developing processes, many companies focus right from the beginning on consumption of resources and energy. These factors will decide whether or not a product can be upscaled cost-effectively to large-scale production. EIRICH has developed a new laboratory mixer as a technology solution for wide range of different industries. CleanLine C5 is a universal one-pot processor and offers a usable volume from 1.6 to 5 liters. Thanks to the use of approved materials and a smart design, this mixer is suitable for use in areas with sensitive hygiene requirements.

Based in Hardheim/Germany, the company is a well-established expert in mixing technology and process engineering. EIRICH has recognized the increasing demands in a wide range of industries and aims to set new standards in terms of materials, ease of cleaning, and safety against contamination. Among other things, these also prompted the development of the new laboratory mixer: “New trends in the industry mean new challenges. With the combination of our unique mixing principle and the decades of experience we have in process engineering in the fields of food, cosmetics, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, we want to give fresh impetus to the industry and highlight some new possibilities for laboratory and production,” says Christina Klein, CleanLine Product Manager at EIRICH.

Multiple process steps in a single processor

The laboratory mixer combines together mixing, granulating, deagglomerating, dispersing, coating, plasticizing, and drying all in a single unit. The multi-functional mixing system can be put to many different uses, and it is capable of processing mixing materials with consistencies ranging from dry to plastic and paste-like. The system is characterized by the inclined rotating pan and the eccentrically mounted mixing tool. Due to the geometrically identical proportionality of the container and mixing tool, the obtained results can be directly translated to production scale. During the mixing process, the material remains in constant motion throughout. In the process, the container always rotates clockwise, while – depending on the way in which the product is being prepared – the rotating tool can run either clockwise or counterclockwise. The integrated scraper directs the material that is being transported through the container to the mixing tool. As a result, a uniform mixture is obtained in a very short space of time. This significantly shortened preparation time guarantees reduced energy consumption, which boosts efficiency and saves on CO2 emissions.

A flexible tool for use across different industries

The trend to ever more frequent product changes both in the laboratory and in the production process means that cleaning intervals need to be kept as short as possible. This requires rapid disassembly, cleaning, and assembly, particularly when it comes to products that are sensitive to contamination – such as lithium-ion battery compounds, for example. In the field of pharmaceuticals, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) ensures that the necessary high hygiene and quality standards are met. The C5 processor is quick to clean very thoroughly, as all key parts can be dismantled and reattached almost entirely without the need for any tools. This prevents cross-contamination or product carryover – for example during the production of tablets – and guarantees best-possible product quality.

Flexibility is also covered in terms of the functionality of the mixer. This is evidenced by the high variability available for the circumferential speeds of the mixing tool and mixing container. By changing the mixing tool, altering the angle of inclination, and changing the circumferential speeds of the mixing tool and the mixing container, the processor can be transformed to a wet or dry disperser, homogenizer, granulating tool, kneader, microgranulating tool, or a coater. Changing the direction of rotation also provides the mixer with new functionality. For example, a star-type rotor works as a kneader when operating clockwise and as a pulverizer or granulating tool when running counterclockwise. The range of optional versions of the mixer includes ATEX-compliant units, mixers with a double jacket, and vacuum versions for processing of organic and temperature-sensitive raw materials as well as for processes on an alcohol or solvent basis.

Operation, analysis, and documentation

In all industries, but particularly in the food and pharmaceuticals sectors, accurate documentation and analysis during development of recipes and processes are absolutely essential. The entire system is controlled via a tablet. The control system records and visualizes all process parameters and data, such as the power draw, temperature, or torque. An integrated analysis tool can be used to compare and reconcile various production parameters. If necessary, these parameters can be adjusted to ensure that product quality is maximized.

The innovative processor offers researchers new ways to refine and develop existing processes and to set new standards in production. To cover demand for even larger production capacities, EIRICH is also planning to expand the CleanLine series in the coming year and add the 50-liter C50 mixer.