Fast route to point of action

For the pro­duc­tion of their fast-acting nasal appli­ca­tions, M et P Pharma AG has been relying on Harro Höfliger as their com­pe­tent partner – from devel­oping the device and the pilot machine for filling and sealing, all the way to high-speed production.

The cor­po­rate slogan “The Nasal Com­pany” puts it in a nut­shell: M et P Pharma is a spe­cialist for nasal appli­ca­tions. The Swiss Com­pany con­cen­trates on the intranasal admin­is­tra­tion of mol­e­cules that are effec­tive in the brain – neu­ro­trans­mit­ters and hor­mones, for example – are admin­is­tered by means of thixotropic oil for­mu­la­tions. The fas­ci­nating part is that the nasal and olfac­tory mucosa, blood cap­il­laries and nerve path­ways are the small back doors through which these active ingre­di­ents can pass directly into the brain, past the pow­erful blood-brain barrier.

(Photo: Harro Höfliger)

The nasal appli­cator is as inno­v­a­tive as the con­cept – a mono-dose con­tainer made from poly­eth­ylene with a convex liquid reser­voir and twist-off pin clo­sure. “For the admin­is­tra­tion of cen­trally acting mol­e­cules it is imper­a­tive to use a per­fect com­bi­na­tion of active ingre­dient, for­mu­la­tion and appli­cator,” explains CEO Udo Mat­tern. “Our con­tainer guar­an­tees a simple and accu­rately dosed appli­ca­tion.” Harro Höfliger has been involved in its devel­op­ment from the very begin­ning. After all, it was nec­es­sary to find tailor-made processes for han­dling, bubble-free filling and sealing of these brand-new devices.

A mile­stone on the route to com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion was the semi-auto­matic pilot line, which M et P has been using for clin­ical trial drugs and test sam­ples since 2012. The prac­tical expe­ri­ences gath­ered with this line were directly inte­grated into the design of the high-speed machine that Harro Höfliger devel­oped in par­allel, with an upscale factor of 1:10.

(Photo: Harro Höfliger )

Parts infeed

Each of the four vibra­tory bowls con­veys up to 150 top and bottom parts per minute into the line.


A robot places about 110 cor­rectly posi­tioned parts per minute into the work­piece recep­ta­cles using suc­tion grippers.

Pick and Place

By means of a linear pick and place unit, eight cor­rectly ori­ented bottom parts each are inserted into spe­cial work­piece carriers.

Liquid filling

The gel dosing sta­tion fills four bottom parts with the thixotropic oil formulation.

IPC removal

An inte­grated process con­trol ensures that all appli­ca­tors meet the highest quality demands.

Ultra­sonic welding

Four ultra­sonic welding sta­tions ensure the 100 per­cent tight and secure joining of the appli­cator parts.


A transfer unit with four suc­tion grip­pers places the flat top parts onto the filled bottom parts.

Product con­ser­va­tion, repro­ducibility and tight ultra­sonic welding of the injec­tion molded parts proved a par­tic­ular chal­lenge. Ulti­mately, the solu­tion resulted in the opti­miza­tion of the device design. Instead of the orig­inal “but­terfly” shape with a hinge, two sep­a­rate plastic halves are now used, which are joined in four welding sta­tions at light­ning speed. The wave­like con­tour of the welded edge rein­forces this pre­cise and homoge­nous con­nec­tion of the top and bottom part. Fur­ther­more, a small sep­a­rating strip around the cavity of the bottom part pre­vents leakage of the oil for­mu­la­tion and pro­tects against par­ti­cles – in addi­tion to dust extrac­tion during the sealing process.

„For chal­lenging tasks such as the man­u­fac­ture of a com­pletely new appli­ca­tion device, it takes a system man­u­fac­turer like Harro Höfliger who develops the nec­es­sary processes with a cre­ative approach.“Udo Mat­tern, CEO at M et P Pharma AG, Emmetten (CH)

In the fall of 2016, M et P put the fully auto­matic line into oper­a­tion. It is an oval motion machine in an eight-lane ver­sion with an output of 200 devices at 25 cycles per minute. From two vibra­tory bowls each, both the bottom parts with the bul­bous molding and pin, as well as the flat top parts are fed to the line as bulk mate­rial on a belt con­veyor. A camera detects the posi­tion of the parts. Only cor­rectly posi­tioned halves advance to the suc­tion grip­pers, which deposit eight bottom parts each into work­piece car­riers. A rotary piston pump with a four-way dosing head alter­nately fills four bottom parts each with active ingre­dient con­taining oil. This is fol­lowed by the transfer of the upper parts and the servo-driven welding. In addi­tion to the tightly focused camera inspec­tion, an in-process con­trol with fail part ejec­tion ensures the per­fect quality of the applicators.

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Photos: Helmar Lünig, Raff Dig­ital, MetP Pharma AG