Processability of powders in high load compaction constitutes a challenge due to particle rearrangement, compression and breakage occurring simultaneously. Although tableting is a central operation in pharmaceutical technology, a better understanding of the link between the macroscopic powder behaviour and its micro-mechanical properties is still required. In the present study, a dual focus on the powder compaction behaviour and the quality properties of final tablets using a compaction simulator is presented. Tableting has been performed for a wide size range of limestone powders from 10 to 400 MPa, in order to understand and compare the powder compaction behaviour at both low and high confining stresses. Compactibility of limestone, the relation between porosity and stress, has been assessed with both the classical (logarithmic) Heckel model and the newly proposed (double logarithmic) Wünsch model, confirming the improvement of the latter to enhance the description of the porosity change during compaction, as well as the model robustness towards non-pharmaceutical powders. The qualitative effect of particle size and thus cohesion on the bulk density at high pressure compaction is found to be very similar to the low pressure regime. However, the geometrical interlocking influence of large size powders found in a previous study becomes irrelevant at such high pressures. For d50<10 μm, the tablet tensile strength remains almost insensitive to the size variation. However, for the coarsest grades, the tensile strength decreases with increasing d50 at all compaction stresses. In addition, the tablet tensile strength is found to follow a non-monotonic trend with median particle size.
- Tensile strength
- Yield pressure