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Common Tableting Problems and Solutions

Common Tableting Problems and Solutions

What are the common tablet defects?

Five defects are commonly observed: Capping, Lamination, Sticking and Picking, Tablet Breaking, and Weight Variation. These defects can occur during the manufacturing process and may affect the efficacy of the final product.


Capping is a common defect when the top or bottom of a tablet separates horizontally from the rest, resulting in a distinct cap or crown-like appearance. This can be due to the lack of bonding between the powdery or granular material during the manufacturing process, which may lead to the formation of air pockets. Capping poses a significant risk as this may affect the drug’s efficacy and reduce its potency. Patients who consume a capped tablet will not receive the total drug dose, leading to possible health risks.

To avoid capping, it is crucial to ensure that the right amount of pressure is applied during the tablet compression. Additionally, the granular or powdery material used should be high quality, and all air pockets should be removed. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the machines used during manufacturing can also help prevent capping.


Lamination occurs when one or more tablet layers separate horizontally, resulting in a layered appearance similar to the layers of an onion. Excessive lubricants cause this defect in the manufacturing process, which may interfere with the bonding of the layers. Lamination is a severe defect as it may cause the tablet to disintegrate rapidly, leading to an inadequate drug dose, which can cause adverse effects.

To prevent lamination, it is crucial to minimize the use of lubricants during the manufacturing process. Additionally, the machine parts used during the process should be adequately maintained and cleaned to avoid contamination.

Recommended Reading: Understanding Sticking Tablets: Causes And Remedies

Sticking and Picking

Sticking and picking are defects that occur when the tablet material adheres to the surface of the die cavity during manufacturing. This may result in the tablet losing its shape or breaking, leading to dosing errors. A lack of appropriate lubrication, inappropriate moisture content, or unsuitable machine settings causes sticking and picking.

To avoid sticking and picking, it is essential to use appropriate lubricants, maintain and clean the machine parts used during manufacturing, and ensure that the moisture content is suitable for the materials used.


Tablet Breaking

Tablet breaking is a defect where the tablet breaks or crumbles during transportation or due to human error, resulting in inaccurate dosing. Poor-qualityPoor ingredients commonly cause this defect, inadequate compression force during the manufacturing process, and improper transportation practices.

To avoid tablet breaking, it is crucial to use high-quality materials during manufacturing, apply the correct compression force during production, and ensure proper handling and transportation practices.

Recommended Reading: Find The Perfect Machine For A Tablet Press

Weight Variation

Weight variation is a common defect where a tablet’s weight is inconsistent with the specified weight, resulting in inaccurate dosing. This may be caused by variations in the material placed in each die cavity, improper mixing of ingredients during production, and imprecise granular or powdery material compression.

To prevent weight variation, it is essential to ensure that the correct material is placed in each die cavity, mix ingredients thoroughly before compression, and apply precise compression force during manufacturing.

Tips for Detecting Defects during Quality Control

Regular quality control measures are essential to detect tablet defects before reaching consumers. To detect faults, the following quality control measures may be implemented:

Use visual inspection to check for defects in the appearance of the tablets.

We are measuring the weight of each tablet to ensure consistency.

Checking the hardness of the tablets to ensure they meet the required specifications.

I am using friability tests to check the durability of the tablets during transportation.

They are conducting disintegration tests to ensure tablets dissolve correctly in the patient’s body.

How does the tableting process work?

The process involves several crucial stages in transforming raw materials into compressed tablets that meet the required quality standards.


The first stage in the tableting process is granulation. During this phase, the active ingredient(s) is mixed with an excipient, a powder filler used to improve product stability, flow properties, compressibility, and lubrication. The combination is then wet or dry to form a granular material easily compressed into a tablet. The equipment utilized in this stage includes a granulator, a sieve, and a dryer.

The effect of granulation on the final product is significant. The particle size distribution of the granules will determine the flow properties, as well as the density and compressibility of the tablet. It is, therefore, essential to get this stage right to ensure a consistent and uniform product.


The second stage of the tableting process is compression. During this phase, the granular material is compressed into tablets of a specific shape and size. Specialized equipment includes the tablet press, tooling, and punches and dies.

The compression stage plays a vital role in ensuring tablets are of uniform weight, size, hardness, and thickness. It also facilitates the control of the dissolution rate, which is essential for the efficacy of a product.


Coating involves adding a protective or aesthetic layer to tablets. The stage is optional but is often utilized to enhance the appearance and functionality of the tablet. The equipment used includes the coating machine, the atomizer, and air handling equipment.

The coating can affect the tablet’s disintegration time, dissolution rate, stability, and visual appeal. By choosing a suitable coating material and applying it appropriately, manufacturers can improve the marketability and acceptability of their products.

Dwell Time:

Dwell time is when a tablet remains in a specific manufacturing step or machine, such as a tablet press or dryer. It is essential to ensure that the product reaches the desired quality standards. The longer the dwell time, the greater the contact time between the tablet and the equipment, affecting the product’s quality.

Hardness Testing:

The final stage of the tableting process is hardness testing. This stage involves testing the tablet’s strength and resistance to breakage. The equipment includes a hardness tester, which measures the force required to break the tablet.

Hardness testing is crucial in ensuring that tablets meet the required quality standards. Tablets must meet minimum standards for hardness, as they can experience pressure during packaging, transportation, and handling.

Recommended Reading: Tableting: A Comprehensive Guide To Oral Solid Dosage Form Manufacture

What are the common problems in tablet formulation?

tableting machine

Improper Lubrication:

This occurs when the tablet’s surface is not smooth, and it causes the tablets to stick together or stick to the machine’s surface during processing. It leads to difficulties in handling and packaging, and it can result in clogging of the device or damage to the tablets. To resolve this problem, lubricants should be added to the formulation to reduce friction, and the correct amount must be used. Also, the machine should be well maintained, and the lubricant should be evenly distributed to ensure a smooth surface.

Incorrect Granule Particle Size:

This problem arises when the particles’ size is not uniform in the formulation. It leads to issues with the granules’ flowability, compressibility, and packing, which can significantly affect the final tablet’s properties. To mitigate this problem, the granules must be accurately sized through proper sieving or milling. The particle size distribution and morphology should be monitored to ensure the granules perform well during compression.

Inadequate Compression Force:

Inadequate compression force can result in weak or crumbly tablets. It occurs when the machine’s compression is not strong enough to create a stable and uniform tablet. To resolve this issue, the machine’s pressure setting must be adjusted to provide adequate force to form a consistent tablet. The formulation’s properties, such as the particle size distribution, moisture content, and lubrication, must also be considered.

High Moisture Content:

High moisture content can lead to many problems in the formulation process. It can cause the ingredients to stick together and clump, leading to poor compressibility, and it can also cause instability and degradation of the active ingredients. To prevent this, the components must be stored in a dry environment and checked for moisture content before formulation. Proper drying and granulation techniques also play a vital role in managing this problem.

Inconsistent Tablet Weight:

Inconsistent tablet weight can result from several issues, including variation in the powder density, die fill, and compression force. It leads to problems with dosage accuracy and product uniformity. To resolve this issue, the powder and granules’ density must be accurately measured, and the fill of the die should be consistent. The compression force must also be uniform to ensure equal weight distribution of the tablets.

How can tablet defects be avoided?

One of the most critical aspects of pharmaceutical production is ensuring that the final product meets quality standards and is free from errors or defects. Tablet defects can occur at any stage of the manufacturing process; therefore, measures are essential to prevent and detect these defects.

tableting problems

Common Tablet Defects, Root Causes, and Impact on Product Quality

Tablet defects can broadly be classified into physical, aesthetic, and chemical categories. Material defects include chipping, capping, picking, sticking, and lamination. Aesthetic defects are cracks, discoloration, and rough edges. Chemical defects result from the degradation of the active ingredient in the tablet or the introduction of impurities.

The root causes of these defects can be traced to various factors such as formulation, process parameters, and tooling. For instance, incorrect compression settings can lead to capping and chipping, while poor granulation can cause lamination and sticking. Inadequate drying of granules can result in the formation of cracks and discoloration.

The impact of defects on the product can range from reducing efficacy to negatively affecting patient adherence. It can also lead to the rejection of the product by regulatory agencies, resulting in financial loss and damage to the company’s reputation.

Preventing Tablet Defects

Use Proper Tooling and Punches: Appropriate tooling and punches are essential to prevent defects. The surfaces of the points must be smooth and free of defects, and the tooling must meet the required specifications. It is also essential to ensure proper maintenance of the tooling and to replace them when they become worn out.

Optimize Compression Settings: The compression settings must be optimized to achieve the required tablet hardness without causing defects. Compression force, dwell time, and ejection forces are critical parameters that must be monitored and adjusted as needed to prevent deficiencies.

Monitor and Control Granulation Process: The granulation process must be monitored and controlled to achieve proper granule size, moisture content, and flow properties. This can be achieved by selecting the appropriate binder and lubricant, controlling the mixing time and speed, and monitoring the temperature and humidity.

Ensure Adequate Drying of Granules: Proper drying of granules is essential to prevent defects such as cracks and discoloration. The drying temperature and time must be optimized, and the granules must be handled carefully during the drying process to avoid damage.

Perform Regular Quality Checks and Testing: Regular quality checks and testing must be performed to detect defects early and prevent them from reaching the market. This can include visual inspection, weight variation, and disintegration testing.

Benefits of Preventing Tablet Defects

Implementing these strategies can lead to significant benefits, such as improved product quality, reduced rejection rates, increased patient compliance, and cost savings. For instance, preventing defects can lower the number of tablets rejected during production, minimizing the financial loss associated with such rejections. Additionally, reducing the number of tablets with defects can improve patient adherence to medication, resulting in better health outcomes.

Recommended Reading: Automatic Olive Oil Filling And Packing Machine

Frequently Asked Questions:


Q: What is tableting?

A: Tableting is a process in which powder or granules are pressed into tablets using a tablet press. It is a standard method used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce tablets.

Q: What are some common tableting problems?

A: Some common tableting problems include capping, lamination, sticking and picking, weight variation, and low tablet hardness.

Q: What is capping?

A: Capping is a tableting problem where the upper or lower portion of the tablet separates horizontally, creating a cap-like appearance.

Q: What causes capping in tablet production?

A: Capping in tablet production can be caused by improper formulation, excessive moisture content, inadequate compaction force, or insufficient bonding between particles.

Q: What is tablet hardness?

A: Tablet hardness refers to the ability of a tablet to withstand pressure without breaking or crumbling. It is an essential parameter in tablet production, affecting its ability to dissolve and disintegrate properly.

Q: What causes low tablet hardness?

A: Low tablet hardness can be caused by inadequate compaction force, insufficient binder or lubricant, improper granulation or compaction process, or excessive fines in the tablet formulation.

Q: What is lamination in tablet production?

A: Lamination is a tableting problem where the tablet separates into distinct layers parallel to the tablet faces. It can be caused by poor bonding between layers, excessive air trapped during compression, or insufficient granule adhesion.

Q: What is sticking and picking in tablet production?

A: Sticking and picking refers to the problem of tablets sticking to the surfaces of the punches or die during compression, causing defects in the tablet appearance and potential tablet weight variation.

Q: How can sticking and picking be avoided in tablet production?

A: Sticking and picking can be avoided by adequately lubricating the tablet formulation, maintaining appropriate tablet press conditions, controlling moisture content, and using suitable processing aids.

Q: What is the role of tablet coating?

A: Tablet coating is a process in which a thin layer is applied to the surface of tablets to provide protection, improve appearance, control the release of the active ingredient, or enhance tablet properties such as taste or swallowability.

Q: What are the different methods of tablet coating?

A: The different methods of tablet coating include film coating, sugar coating, enteric coating, and functional coating. Each method has its advantages and is selected based on the specific requirements of the tablet formulation.


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