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Integrated tube cap design simplifies access to medication

Many vitamin pills and tablets such as pain killers are packaged today in cylindrical tubes with a cork-like cap. This will often incorporate some form of desiccant to protect the contents against moisture, while a simple mechanical spring in the tube stops the contents from rattling around.

However, such caps often fall off, are easy to lose and require two hands to manipulate. Customers and suppliers of vitamin pills and similar drugs have been used to this conventional design for many years. The EUREKA project set out to improve the design with an innovative flap closure that could hold a desiccating powder and could be opened simply with one hand. "This was a novel idea that emerged inhouse," explains Klaus Hfflin of German project leader KUTTERER.

Creating a new handling and packaging technology needed close co-operation with the pharmaceutical industry. The solution had to be demonstrated in close-to-production prototype samples.

KUTTERER worked on the design with Austrian injection moulding tool manufacturer KTWKunststofftechnik. "We could have done the project ourselves but it would have taken longer and cost more," says Hfflin. "KTW is our main mould supplier. We know what they do and their capabilities, making it easy for us to work together. EUREKA labelling helped us obtain the funding to go ahead with the project."

The resulting one-piece low density polyethylene moulding is easy to open and close with one hand, stays connected to the container to avoid its loss and preclude contamination of the contents, integrates a dessicator chamber to prevent the contents becoming damp, incorporates a tamperproof seal and includes a spring that holds the tablets in place before use.

Markets are expected in high-value pharmaceuticals. The design enables high-volume production with the estimated capacity of one injection mould at least 20 million pieces a year. "This is a new product segment we hope to develop," says Hfflin. "Customers have been convinced by the prototypes.

Development is now continuing to put the new design into full production within two or three years."


Contact: Katherine O'Loghlen

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