The future of formulation stability testing – Doing more with less to drive innovation
Liquid formulations are complex multi-component, multi-phase systems which are inherently unstable and so a key challenge for the formulator is to ensure that the products they are developing have the required product attributes for performance but also remains stable during the lifetime of the product, both in storage and in-use. Formulations therefore need to be designed to withstand environmental factors such as temperature or humidity variations, vibrations during transport, or shaking and pouring during use.
Current approaches to stability testing are time and resource consuming (think of storing numerous samples over the product lifetime of at least 12 months) meaning that product development is slow, incremental, empirical and costly, alongside being conservative and prone to over-formulation. In an age where industry is moving towards digitalization and automation, and formulations with enhanced lifetime and performance are expected, how can this rate limiting step in the product development cycle be accelerated?
The formulation industry continues to move towards personalised / bespoke formulation whilst at the same time needing to address sustainability challenges such as ensuring less waste in product development and production alongside the use of naturally derived ingredients which inherently have greater variability in both composition and availability.
All of this drives a need for the ability to rapidly reformulate a product to meet the needs of evolving consumer preferences and retain sustainability in the supply chain. Given the almost limitless combinations and interactions of formulation ingredients available, it is vital to develop new approaches to material design and formulation optimisation that rapidly connect the critical to function relationships between ingredient synergies and product performance.
Traditional formulation approaches to understand these complex, multi-component structures (generally a combination of industrial experience, technical mastery and scientific acumen) can only go so far – it’s often sai ...