Tooling can be defined as tools to craft a particular shape. Tabletting tools i.e., Punches and dies are essential tools to shape any granules into a solid dosage form by applying compaction force in a compression machine. Any shape be it round, capsule, animal shape, bullet shape or any special shape can be obtained with the help of the standard tooling. Now a very common question is what are types of tooling and what tools shall be opted for the required dosage form. Before understanding these parts, let’s go through some basics of tooling.




The basic nomenclature of tooling.

Basic Features

Head: Head which rests on the cam, moves on cam during a compression.

Head Flat: Head flatness is vital and it’s size varies depending on tooling types. Compression rollers in a compression machine press this head flat and that’s where actual compaction takes place.

Head Chamfer: Head chamfer is provided to remove the sharp edges for smooth operation in cam.

Head Degree: Head degree facilitates smooth movement in cam.

Neck: Its acts as supporting part for head and body for fitment and allows easy movement in the punch bore.

Neck to Head Radius: This radius helps tools for easy fitment and avoid any sharp corners which can wear out turret surface.

Neck to Barrel Radius: This radius assist tools for easy fitment and avoid any sharp corners which can wear out turret bore.

Barrel Chamfer:  It facilitates to avoid any damage to turret bore.

Tip Undercut: Tip undercut acts as a scraper blade for die bore to remove the sticky granules.

Tip Radius: Tip radius offers strength to tip during compression as tip need to travel to a particular length in Die bore.

Barrel or Body: This part of the tool is used for fitment and sliding in the punch bore.

Key: Key is used mostly in the upper punch for aligning the upper punch tip with respect to die and avoids any kind of rotation during compression to prevent major accidents.

Groove: The grooves are designed such that dust cup can be fitted to avoid the contamination of any foreign particles coming from upper punch turret bore.

Tip Length: Tep length defines the penetration point of the tip inside the die bore.

Tip: Tips is your actual tablet size and its cavity provides shape to the tablet during compression.

Cavity: Cavity is the area where the powder gets filled to form a shape during compression.

Die height: Die height is defined as per the die plate bore slot thickness.

Die O.D.(Outer diameter): Die OD is the die bore slot in die plate.

Die Groove:  This is the slot where the die lock screw is fixed.

Die O.D.(Outer Dia chamfer): This chamfer reduces sharp edges which can wear and tear die bore surface.

Die I.D.(Inner dia chamfer): This chamfer minimizes the damages of die bore surface and easy movement of punches inside the dies.

Tooling Set

A single tooling set comprises of upper punch, lower punch and die. These punches move vertically in turret bores through cams and compress to form a tablet.

As per international standards, i.e. TSM(Tablet Specification Manual) and EU(Euro Standard), tooling specs have been standardized so that inventories worldwide can be minimized for tablet presses. All international manufacturers follow EU standards and TSM standards mostly followed in the United States of America and in Japan.

Upper punch: Upper punch is fitted in the turret bore and moves vertically in bores during compression. Upper punches make the upper cavity of the tablet. It is fitted with key for alignment with die bore in case of shape punches. For round punches, there is no need of key in upper punches. Upper Punches travels 5-6mm inside the die bore during compression and as per the penetration setting done in a compression machine. Tip Length is shorter in the upper punch compared to the lower punch. Tip length of upper punch is generally 8mm-9mm.

Lower punch: The lower punch is fitted in the turret bore and makes the lower cavity of the tablet during compression. Lower punch tip always stays inside the die bore hence there is no need of key in case of lower punch. Tip length is relatively longer in the lower punch as it has to cover the entire height of die and eject the tablet. The lower punch tip length is 25-28mm.

Die: Die is fitted in the die plate. Die bore in die is actually where the filling of powder is done. Upper punch tip and lower punch tip compresses the powder in the die bore with the help of compression roller pressure applied on the head flat during compression to make the required shape of the tablet.

Tooling Types

There are different types of tooling i.e. D, DB, B and BB types. Apart from these standard types, there are FS tooling, BBS tooling, A tooling and Chinese standard tools which are totally different than International standard tools.

Tooling TypesBody DiameterDie Outer DiameterDie HeightTablet sizes
D25.35mm38.10mm23.81mmRound 5mm to 25mm,Shape 5mm to 25mm
DB25.35mm30.16mm22.22mmRound 5mm to 19mm, Shape 5mm to 19mm
B19mm30.16mm22.22mmRound 4mm to 16mm,Shape 4mm to 19mm
BB19mm24mm22.22mmRound 4mm to 13mm, Shape 4mm to 19mm

In the below image, basic types of tooling have been explained.

Tooling recommended for tablets

If the client has 27 station tablet press, then they will buy 30 sets or 35 sets of tooling keeping a few sets extra as spares but at a moment only 27 sets can be used. There are various factors related while considering tooling type where the client relies on tooling manufactures for their inputs. For e.g., if a client wants to make a tablet of size 9mm, then what type of tooling should be considered. Now factors like product nature need to be considered whether granules are sticky, hard, fines in granules, or require high compression force. Generally, any client will choose B or BB type of tooling which provides higher output as the number of tooling stations is more compared to D type. Manufacturers offer quality alloy steels to overcome compression force requirement but some tools which require more dwell time(more contact time between head flat and compression roller) and high compaction force, in those cases, D tooling becomes an auto option in such cases. The head flat can be increased in B tooling as well but the strength and dwell time which D can offer, it’s not possible in B tooling.

But in case if the powder is non-sticky, good flowing nature and requires standard compression force then B or BB tooling is the best option as the output will be more in that case.

Above, we have covered the basics of tooling. Soon we will be also coming up with different grades of steel, coatings, troubleshooting of toolings, tableting issues, innovating trends and their impact on tooling for better performance. To know more about tooling reach out to me at or

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