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Tablet Crush Resistance and Break Strength

Situation

Many products come in tablet form, with a durability designed for both packaging and for use. Too brittle or too hard, and they may not be fit for use, or at best perform below expectation. The only way to determine consistency is mechanical testing of samples.

As a quality control measure on the production line, or as a manufacturing design tool, computer-controlled mechanical testing, based on criteria determined for an acceptable range of measures, is the only reliable method.

So what does it take to crush or break a tablet product?

Method

In this test, an FTC TMS-Pro Texture Analyzer was fitted with a 500 N intelligent loadcell and 1.5 inch (38 mm) cylinder probe. A short program advanced the probe to touch the tablet sample before advancing a further 1 mm, as sufficient to always break the sample. The TL-Pro control software also allows for break detection to stop the probe advancing further than necessary. The probe then returned automatically to the starting position.

 

 

 

 

Results

 

 

 

 

The graphical representation from TL-Pro, of the test results for the four samples, is shown here (force applied, against cumulative displacement).

The critical factor is the initial fracture point of the tablet sample. This trace also profiles resistance from the fragments as the probe continued to crush downwards.

The same results with additional calculations are shown here.

  • Average = arithmetic mean
  • SD = standard deviation
  • CV = coefficient of variation: (SD/Mean) x 100

Significance

The break point of many tablet products is a balance between resilience to the point of use, and viability in use. Frequently the tablet size denotes a required ‘dose’, whether it is a vitamin or a dishwasher additive, and nobody wants either a quarter mint in the bottom of a packet or a whole one that is too hard to crack. Other factors are important, including the pattern of breaking, but the crush strength is a primary indicator of manufactured quality. Mechanized testing as shown here is reliable and repeatable. The method allows for any minor size variations, and provides a clear profile of the initial break. Careful initial testing of a product can produce upper and lower tolerance levels for the required break force, and be used for quality monitoring on the production line, producing instant pass and fail indication. Any drift towards failure can be fed back to the line, saving time and cost.

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I have been using the TMS-Pro mechanical tester in our undergraduate biological materials property course for the past 3 years. The simple setup and operation of the TMS-Pro allows my students to focus on learning the theoretical underpinnings of mechanical properties instead of fighting with a finicky test system.

An added bonus is working with Shirl and his amazing team at Food Technology Corporation. They respond almost immediately to questions and inquiries and are always friendly and helpful. 

Jennifer (Melander) Keshwani, Ph.D. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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The University of Arizona’s Nutritional Sciences Food Lab acquired a Texture Analyzer from Food Technologies about 5 years ago. The company has a great product, which is tailored to food needs. 

We have used the Texture Analyzer for both research projects and as a tool to demonstrate to students how food manufacturers can employ objective testing in product evaluation to show how differing ingredients in the same product can affect quality attributes. Its use adds another dimension to the foods labs.

Drew Lambert has been instrumental in helping with set up for testing and providing support whenever there’s a question. He has been a pleasure to work with and is always accommodating with our needs and schedules.  He has even sent us special attachments for special projects.  We couldn’t ask for a better technical support.  Thanks for a great product and great service.

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Assistant Professor of Practice
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