What is VCM Technology?
More than three letters.
VCM (Vacuum Compression Molding) allows the mg-to-g scale screening of new formulations for hot-melt extrusion. VCM is a process that transforms thermoplastic materials into homogeneous specimens without altering the source materials’ characteristics due to degradation.
or extrudates, flakes etc.
or powder etc.
How does it work?
In three steps.
The desired amount of materials is filled into the VCM Tool. Vacuum is applied, compacting the powder as well as preventing bubbles.
Step 1 : Vacuum Compaction
Rapid melting is achieved by heating the VCM Tool on a preheated hot plate. Particles fuse together to create a homogenous melt.
Step 2 : Melting
Rapid cooling of the VCM Tool is
obtained by convection and conduction
on a separate cooling unit solidifying the sample.
Step 3 : Cooling
What are the innovations?
Simplicity at its best.
The VCM sample chamber is fully PTFE-lined and yet adaptable in volume. Thanks to the arrangement of the foils, two key innovations are guaranteed. #1 adaptable sample chamber: It follows the natural material behavior during sample preparation. Density changes during compaction, melting and solidifying are compensated and defined sample geometries are obtained.
or flakes etc.
Geometrically defined sample,
no voids or bubbles
Key innovation #1: Adaptable sample chamber
Key innovation #2: Peelable sample chamber
#2 peelable sample chamber: The separation foils are simply peeled off after the preparation process. No tedious cleaning is required. The chamber has no dead zones enabling lossless sample preparation. After the insertion of new foils, the equipment is ready for the next preparation cycle. The foils can be reused multiple times making the process even more cost efficient.
How much material do I need?
Just enough to shape your sample.
The VCM Process holds the balance between input and output material. It’s the first lossless approach to melt samples into a defined shape without air inclusions. With 1 gram of powder, you will obtain a cylindrical sample of 1 gram with a defined shape.
Ø 2 mm
up to 10 mm length
1 - 50 mg required
We understand that for some applications, 1 gram might already be a very high quantity. That’s why we have downsized our VCM Technology to dimensions as small as 2 mm in diameter. 2 mm rods can be produced with heights of 0.1 mm and 10 mm enabling screenings, accurate material characterization -starting at the low mg-range.
What about mixing?
It’s important to obtain a homogeneous starting material in the small micrometre range to empower diffusive mixing.
If you work with heterogeneous materials at large particle sizes and process it via VCM, you will obtain a heterogeneous sample. VCM is not applying any mechanical mixing inside the Chamber. To illustrate this, we have chosen to fuse multi-colored pellets in the mm-size range with VCM. They are squeezed and melted together, forming a solid disc without air inclusions but the individual pellets with a sharp interface are still visible.
Pellets (length scale = mm range)
One solid disc,
individual pellets visible.
Empowering diffusion is key to obtain a homogeneous sample out of heterogeneous starting materials. We can reduce the particles’ size by starting with a physical powder mixture. After the VCM processing, the result is better than the previous one, but some agglomerates and inclusions are not completely dissolved. This might be due to insufficient mixing or too large particle sizes in general.
Inhomogenous sample with API crystals.
To obtain diffusive mixing it’s important to have a starting material which is homogeneous in the small micrometer range. Our customers usually apply a milling step, preferably under cryogenic conditions. After VCM processing the result will be a homogeneous and defined sample that has properties comparable to extruded formulations.
Route 1: Milling
Route 2: Solvent casting
Mixing Powder [5g] and tip of spatula with 100 ml Ethanol.
Let the solution evaporate until a thin layer remains
Another way to empower diffusion is particle dissolution via solvent casting. We can use suitable solvents (ethanol, acetone), let the particles dissolve in it and pour the solution on a Petri Dish. Afterwards, we let the solvent evaporate until we obtain a thin layer of our materials. The layer is peeled off from the Petri Dish and transferred to the VCM Tool, from which a homogenous sample is obtained after processing.
Do you prefer a video?
Just one click.
VCM technology enables lossless and rapid production of solid samples from powder by performing fusion under vacuum, allowing milligram to gram scale screening. Watch the video to get all the insights!
What are the benefits?
The key innovations change the rules. New possibilities simplify daily lab routines and open up new doors in development. Improved sample quality may reveal new insights into material characteristics. The shortcuts allow you to concentrate on more important tasks.
Rapid & straightforward process
The VCM process can be used to combine several VCM samples to one merged multilayer sample easily. Multilayer structures result in different functional benefits (e.g. diffusion barrier).
The process is robust and easy to operate. The temperature is the key process parameter. A sample is usually produced in less than 10 minutes without tedious process development.
Multilayered structures prototyping
Lossless sample preparation
The VCM Tool is the first device to enable lossless sample preparation. Thanks to the thoughtful design of the sample chamber, there are no dead zones.
Air inclusions are prevented using vacuum during the entire sample preparation process. Even micronized powders melt homogeneously to form solid specimens with defined geometries.
Homogeneous with defined geometry
Minimal cleaning effort
The separation foils form the sample chamber. Replacing the foils saves you valuable development time as cleaning is reduced to a minimum.