Developing a new machine, in an already established market, is a challenge that is both fascinating and complex. There are several aspects that must be considered in order to respect the main constraints of the project such as the quality, the cost, and the time to develop the product. The work completed on DOMINA is based on Concurrent Engineering which requires greater complexity in the design phase and an inter-functional team. We immediately thought of a machine that would be different. A machine that would offer the customer not only the essential characteristics of solidity, reliability, innovation, ease of use and flexibility, but also be perfectly compact in just a few square meters. This defines a design that combines a sturdy structure, with easy accessibility and manoeuvrability for everyday use. This was the greatest challenge to the designers to not only design a machine that was visually appealing but also functional, including the use of available space effectively, the coexistence of components and functional systems and being able to guarantee the accessibility in both the maintenance and operational phases.
The result is a product that is easy to use, simple and fast with innovative technical solutions, lightweight parts and automatic procedures that prevent errors and guide the operator in the use of the machine. The main feature of DOMINA is the fact that it is a configurable platform. This required an in-depth study on simplifying complexity. The platform concept inevitably contains complexity, similar to Legos. Each Lego must fit together in different ways and all functionalities. We managed and controlled this complexity with the goal of simplifying the customer’s procedures and those of its operator. For example, by identifying parts for the correct set-up according to the configuration plan, the diagnostics verification before starting production, and the machine architecture and design that clearly show the parts and the adjustments that the operator must check during a normal operation. Finally, the turret change takes place in just a few minutes, which allows for a quick removal of the size parts in a single step and replaced with a different turret already set to be installed.
DOMINA collects a series of innovations, patent pending, which are indicative of its innovative drive, including the efforts made on improving the tablet manufacturing process on the production of both mono and bilayer tablets. The close relationship between the designers and the process technologists has helped to define which parameters should be controlled during the production and the set-up of the machine, in order to also improve the process of Continuous Manufacturing. Typically, the traditional tablet presses are limited by the product’s physical and chemical characteristics; the innovations implemented by DOMINA have been primarily focused on improving the overall process. We have the possibility to have different types of product feeders, endless-fill-cam that allows us to give the correct amount of the product more accurately and timely than our competitors, the possibility to increase the de-aeration phases removing the air from the product with accurate pre-compaction cams, and the compression force that can reach values of 120 kN on all three compression stations. All these functions can be simultaneously and perfectly assembled on the platform, or used individually, depending on the powder to be treated, with a single objective: to speed up the process without sacrificing the quality of the finished product, or rather trying to improve it further.
From a strictly technical point of view, we have paid particular attention to the energy aspects, directing the design choices as much as possible towards the efficiency of the various systems implemented in the machine. The choice of motors used, for example, is the result of specific research, simulations and practical tests on the various technologies available on the market. This has made it possible to choose the components that best suited the tablet press performance while always keeping an eye on the maintenance aspects and the ease of use by the end customer. This approach was used on the various forms of energy required by the machine, never neglecting the materials and shapes of other components, for example 3D printing to improve the performance of the machine’s suction and ventilation system. Another important aspect, which has already been addressed in the development of the PREXIMA series and which has improved further, is related to noise and vibrations. A tablet press is inevitably noisy. However, an accurate and meticulous study on vibration dampers and soundproofing materials has allowed us to obtain excellent results, while keeping the comfort of the end user at the centre of our product development.
Here we can say that, in DOMINA, constant research and meticulous development are the foundation for real change.