Dec 2021

Significance of Helium Mass Spectrometer in Blister Pack Leak Detection


Blister packaging is a type of pre-formed plastic packaging that includes a base card with artwork and a clear plastic pocket called the blister. The cavity, which is composed of either plastic or aluminum foil, and the lid, which is made of paperboard, paper, plastic, or aluminum, are the two main components of blister packaging. The product is enclosed in the cavity, and the lid seals the package. Blister packing is used in the pharmaceutical industry to pack tablets, pills, capsules, granules, and lozenges. Blister packaging gets its name from the fact that each item is kept within its own small plastic bubble or blister. Blister packs can provide tamper resistance as well as barrier protection for shelf-life requirements.

Due to its extreme sensitivity, a helium-based test method is used for verifying the integrity of the blister pack. The test method operates by detecting helium that has been enclosed in the package system and is escaping through micro-channels in the package. This test sequence begins with the package being placed in the test fixture and immediately drawing a vacuum. The helium thus escapes through potential holes or cracks in the packaging as a result of the pressure differential.

Blister Pack Leak Testing Using Helium Mass Spectrometry

The Mass Spectrometer Leak Detector is a comprehensive system for locating and detecting leaks within or outside of product. This approach employs the use of helium as a tracer gas, which is utilized to fill the product attached to the detector. Helium leaks into and out of the tested product, causing its partial pressure to be measured and shown on a screen.

The leak detector works on the principle of a sector field mass spectrometer. Helium gas is ionized in a vacuum. Helium ions are accelerated and separated in a magnetic field using additional voltage. The ion current is converted to an electric current using a specific detector. The current is accelerated by leak detection units and displayed on the screen. The measured current is proportional to the helium concentration and equal to the observed leak. Helium leak detection using helium mass spectrometry is widely known for its suitability for packaging such as blister packs.

Helium Leak Detection Benefits

  • With a high degree of sensitivity, leaks can be identified and measured
  • No effect on the materials under test, due to the inert properties of the helium
  • The testing procedure is mostly dry and temperature-independent
  • Helium leak testing has a faster cycle time, which reduces the cost and overall processing time

Helium leak detection offered by Leak Detection Associates (LDA) can greatly improve the safety and health of blister package users. Blister packaging ensures that tablets and capsules are properly sealed. It is simple to do a leak test after packaging. Blister packaging is popular because of its convenience of packing, easy dosing for the patient, with its popularity increasing for many new drug solid dose/oral dose products.

mass spectrometer, helium leak detection, helium mass spectrometry, mass spectrometry, helium leak testing
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