As if it isn’t hard enough to develop the perfect formula in the laboratory, successfully scaling a bench formulation to production sizes creates further challenges. A product’s successful scale-up will consistently offer the consumer the intended benefits while providing a profitable return for the manufacturer. Therefore, it is critical that the aesthetics created in the laboratory are replicated in a range of larger vessels in production facilities. Many variables play a role in making this possible, but by following certain steps and guidelines, product developers can move to the production stage confidently. The more experience formulators have in scaling-up batches, the more knowledge they can bring back into their laboratories to ensure successful transitions to production.
The general question formulators must ask themselves is whether a process is optimal or just functional. Although formulators are pulled in many directions, it is beneficial to try to optimize products before they are being produced on a larger scale. A good practice is to invite engineers or production compounders to view a batch being made on the lab bench because observing the manner in which the formulator adds sequences and mixes the product can offer insights to production processing—and possibly catch any issues early enough to be modified.
A good process engineering group will challenge the formulator with questions ranging from sequencing, mixing speeds, homogenization energy and salt curves, to cooling rates. Whether the formulator is developing skin care, hair care or makeup products, the principal concepts from a formulator’s standpoint as well as a process engineer’s standpoint will be reviewed here in addition to guidelines that are needed to ensure consistent successful production batches.
Recognizing the key ingredients in the formula is a good start. Choosing emulsifiers carefully will yield a narrow droplet size distribution and stable product without using energy to hold the formula together.