The usage of ampoules to store liquids dates back hundreds of years. Ampoules and similar containers were used by early martyrs to preserve various items including chloroform that was used as anesthetic in the 1840’s. Currently, there are many variations of the ampoule, but the basic concept still remains the same. Modern day ampoules are used in handling injectable solutions, air sensitive chemicals, hygroscopic materials, medicines and analytical materials.
Ampoule filling technologies have developed rapidly in line with the current industry demands. The modern day machines are designed to ensure all safety and aseptic conditions and maintained. Automatic ampoule filling machines are made in such as way to fill the ampoules without any human contact, since the product being filled must be infection free.
Automation in Ampoule Filling Machines
These machines utilize various technologies to achieve the utmost hygiene during filling. Some of the advanced features include;
- Automatic ampoule handling and centering systems
- Cleaning , washing and sterilization using sterilant
- Multiple filling heads for simultaneous filling of many ampoules at same time
- Automatic control with programmable logic controllers to ensure precision is achieved
- Labeling and sealing processes to increase throughput per hour.
Specialized ampoule filling and sealing machines
may also be applied to micro dose powders into containers. They have installed metering systems to fill powders or even granules. Precise amount of powder or granule is drawn and delivered to the ampoules through compressed air jets, vibrating fillers or even using vacuum pumps.
Open flame method of sealing remains the most common technique for sealing called the tip and pull sealing technique. In tip sealing, heat is applied uniformly around neck of the ampoule to cause melting and formation of a seal. This method is mostly used in liquid ampoule filling.
Pull sealing is mainly used for powder and granules as they require a much larger opening. Special systems have also been developed for this process.
Current Technology in Ampoule Filling and Sealing Machines
- The machines have been designed to ensure no contaminants come in contact with the product. This includes using inert gases such as argon to back fill the ampoule before heat sealing to completely cover the drug.
- Variable operation speeds while at same time ensuring consistency of volumes and pressures are maintained.
- Some machines are equipped with labeling or ring banding system near the tip for better labeling and product identification.
- The ampoule filling machines come equipped with weight checking units to maintain batch consistency. The machines are also equipped with a sensing mechanism where no ampoule, no filling is done to prevent packing of empty vials.
The pharmaceutical industry drives the demand for ampoule filling machines since this it is essential that medical formulations meet aseptic requirements. The demand for these machines continues to grow worldwide since it offers high cost savings and efficiency during product manufacturing. The growth in demand is also boosted by the need for filling accuracy and no spillages, which in turn eliminates product losses.