Landau, Germany – Most of the sterile rubber stoppers needed to seal high-purity Covid-19 vaccine vials are being manufactured on presses designed by Wickert Hydraulic Presses, according to the company.
International pharmaceutical industry suppliers awarded Wickert a major order of the stopper presses in early 2020, the family-owned German engineering firm said 28 Jan.
The remit, it said, was to enable the manufacture of billions of vaccine vials within only a few months lead time, said Wickert', noting that its WKP 10.000 S machines can turn out 2,000 rubber stoppers in a single press stroke.
To cut delivery time from ten to six months, Wickert has been manufacturing the presses at an accelerated speed, with the first eight press units airlifted to customers worldwide via Antonov.
Using the the world's largest airplane to airlift the 45-tonne presses, instead of standard boat shipping, cut delivery time by 25 days, said the company, based in the southern Germany.
All eight units are manufacturing rubber stoppers at full capacity, said Wickert, which is currently assembling several more pharmaceutical presses to meet "enormous immediate demand."
According to the company, the presses are also used to manufacture needle shields and syringe pistons for disposable syringes.
"Our presses are essential for bottling the vaccine, " said Hans J Wickert, managing director and owner. "Our employees are highly committed to helping getting the vaccine properly sealed and delivered to the public as fast as possible."
Wickert‘s pharmaceutical presses are designed to meet very strict cleanroom requirements, the MD explaining that any particle as small as 0.003mm is considered a contamination.
The rubber stoppers, he added, must reliably seal billions of vials and are required to seal the vaccine at extremely high ambient temperatures as well as at extremely low temperatures.
"Stoppers made by Wickert presses meet all these requirements [and] are indispensable for the manufacture of vaccine vial stoppers." Hans J Wickert concluded.