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.

Vacuum Compression Molding sample - Hot-melt extrusion formulation screening
Vacuum Compression Molding - Hot melt extrusion formulation screening
Powder - Active Pharmacautical Ingredients

VCM Tool

Perfect samples

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Extrudates

Powder

or extrudates, flakes etc.

Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep
Powder or extrudates

Pellets

or powder etc.

How does it work?

In three steps.

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Vacuum Compaction - VCM

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

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Rapid melting is achieved by heating the VCM Tool on a preheated hot plate. Particles fuse to create a homogenous melt.

Step 2 : Melting 

Vacuum Compression Molding - Heating Unit
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VCM samples - Hot-melt extrusion formulation screening

Perfect samples

Rapid cooling of the VCM Tool is

obtained by convection and conduction
on a separate cooling unit solidifying the sample.

Step 3 : Cooling

Vacuum Compression Molding - Cooling Unit
Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep

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.

MeltPrep Vacuum Compression Molding - Hot melt extrusion formulation screening

Powder

or flakes etc.

Movable

piston

Insights

Compaction pressure

(vacuum)

Geometrically defined sample,

no voids or bubbles

Key innovation #1: Adaptable sample chamber

Key innovation #2: Peelable sample chamber

VCM

Insert

#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.

Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep

How much material do I need?

Just enough to shape your sample.

VCM Tool - Hot-melt extrusion formulation screening

Input

Output

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.

Powder
VCM Tool - Implants prototyping
VCM sample - Implants prototyping
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Ø 2 mm

up to 10 mm length

1 - 50 mg required

VCM sample - Implants prototyping
VCM sample - Implants prototyping

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?

Empower diffusion.

It’s important to obtain a homogeneous starting material in the small micrometer range to empower diffusive mixing.

Pellets

If you work with heterogeneous materials at large particle sizes and process them 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.  

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Pellets

Pellets (length scale = mm range)

VCM Processing

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One solid disc,

individual pellets visible.

Mixing

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.

Powder

(HPMCAS)

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Mixing

VCM Processing

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Inhomogenous sample with API crystals.

Empowering diffusion

To obtain diffusive mixing, it’s important to have a homogeneous starting material 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 with properties comparable to extruded formulations.

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Cryo Milling

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Powder (HPMCAS)

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Route 1: Milling

Route 2: Solvent casting

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Ethanol

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Mixing Powder [5g] and tip of spatula with 100 ml Ethanol.

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Let the solution evaporate until a thin layer remains

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Homogenous sample.
Amorphous

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Homogenous sample.
Amorphous

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.

Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep
Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep

Who are our customers?

Innovators.

Check out our testimonial page and see what our customers say about our technology.

Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep

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!

Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep
 

What are the benefits?

Shortcuts.

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.

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Rapid & straightforward process

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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).

Conventional processing time

Conventional

Tedious

trial-and-error

based approach

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

Conventional sample

Conventional

Shapeless

Bubbles

Conventional

Conventional sample preparation

Input

Output

Material A

Material B

Co-extrusion die

Conventional

Co-extrusion

Co-extruded strand

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.

Conventional

Conventional cleaning effort
Vacuum Compression Molding by MeltPrep