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Blister Machine Features Vacuum System for Reject/Transfer

In the compact TF1pro blister machine, a vacuum arm lifts ‘good’ blisters, precisely lowering them to the transfer actuator. Another key safeguard: an upper seal plate that retracts when web motion stops to prevent unnecessary heat exposure.

Pharmaworks, part of ProMach Pharma Solutions, introduces the TF1pro, the next generation system in its TF1 family of compact ba-600 linear pallet automatic blister card packing machine at PACK EXPO Connects. 

The system is particularly suited to small to moderate batch sizes and clinical trials for pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers and contract packers that frequently changeover. The fully servo-driven blister machine runs up to 100 indexes (200 blisters) per minute.

While smaller systems don’t always have the bells and whistles of high throughput machines, Pharmaworks added many features to maximize product safety and ease of cleaning, while also achieving fast changeovers, accuracy, and versatility.

Ben Brower, director of sales and marketing at Pharmaworks, said, “Two years ago, a large pharmaceutical company approached us and asked us to develop a compact blister machine with the most advanced cGMP features. With their design input, we developed the TF1pro, the only ba-350 turntable automatic blister card packing machine on the market that offers this high level of product safety and sanitation in a small footprint.”

Applications

The system accommodates tablets, capsules, softgels, vials, syringes, liquids, and more. The intermittent-motion TF1pro supports both thermoforming and cold forming applications and runs a wide range of base materials with a standard roll diameter of 500 millimeters, providing twice the production capacity of the ba-600h automatic hf double blister packing machine. The usable forming area is 120 by 165 mm with a depth of 25 mm. Optional product vision inspection and print vision inspection are available, as well as full serialization if needed. 

Processes and parameters, including temperature, pressure, and the timing of each step are PLC-controlled and programmed as a unique recipe in the TF1pro’s large HMI. The TF1pro offers either Rockwell Automation or Beckoff control systems.

Operation

As the base roll unwinds, an optional feature monitors roll diameter and alerts the operator when it's time to add fresh material at the splicing station. Power-driven rollers form a loop in the material, while a sensor ensures that the material loop is in the correct area. This touchless feature helps prevent excess drag on the material, meaning less stretch, saving on costs by allowing the use of small width base rolls.

Next, a splice detector that notifies the operator when there is a splice in the web, allowing the machine to track the splices and automatically reject that section of material.

The company reports that automated adjustment of heating plates, forming tools, and other change parts translates into a 30% reduction in changeover time versus other TF series machines. It features ergonomic components that slide in and lock, including the guide track on the feeding station. The heat area automatically retracts when not in use for operator safety and convenience during changeovers and maintenance. 

Sloped surfaces throughout the system eliminate the chance of cross-contamination from trapped product or debris, which also speeds changeover by simplifying machine cleaning. 

At the heating station, upper and lower plates apply contact heating to the base material. The heating station opens fully during machine stop to remove heat from the material. There are optional burnout detectors to determine that all heating elements are working correctly—these will stop the machine if an issue is detected.  

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