Animal capsule shell

The first and still the most utilized material used for production of hard capsules is without question gelatin. The earliest written record dates back to 1730, although some claims ancient Egyptians already used kind of gelatin “capsules” in the hope of covering up the unpleasant odors and tastes of certain substances. Another important milestone was reached in 1931, when Arthur Colton laid the foundation for mass production of two-piece capsules. Certainly, it is interesting that these units still represent the basic design of today’s machinery.

The most important benefits directly predetermining gelatin to its use are certainly excellent gelatinizing characteristics (geling, uniform film-forming...). The simplicity of capsule formulation and manufacturing along with the versatility of their usage makes them a popular choice both for the manufacturers and customers. Patients especially appreciate easy swallowability. Providers of gelatin shell offer multiple branding options in customized color and printing which increases patient compliance. Hard gelatin capsules have low oxygen permeability and suitable disintegration times.

Due to its origin, its consumption interferes with certain religious beliefs or dietary choices of many people. From a technological point of view, its susceptibility to hydrolysis and excessive reactivity towards many substances (particularly towards compounds containing aldehyde groups, reducing sugars, metal ions, plasticizers or preservatives) makes it difficult to process. The proper moisture content ranges from 13-15%. With lower values the capsules tend to be brittle, with higher values they are too soft and sticky. There is also high risk of cross-linking which can result in reduced water solubility and retarded disintegration.

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