Fluid Bed Processors: For Better and 'Wurster'

Jim McAndrew VP of Operations and Process Technologies


Frontida's Center of Excellence, based in AURORA, IL is a best-in-class technology operation for Fluid Bed Technology and manufacturing. With over 25 years' experience in branded drug R&D and production, as well as contract development and manufacturing, Jim McAndrew offers key insights into how Frontida provides expanded capabilities using Wurster coating processes.

Setting The Standard

The Wurster coating fluid beds located at Frontida's Aurora site come directly from what once proudly stood as a Fluid Air™ assembly and engineering site and Fluid Air’s PharmPro CMO operation. Following Frontida’s acquisition of this facility, the Chicago based operation retained its original patented equipment and patented processes, along with their industry leading personnel who had spent decades working in the field and optimizing world-class processes for Fluid Air equipment.

What Exactly is Wurster Coating?

Wurster coating fluid beds are completely customizable systems that produce superior applications of high quality reproducible films onto particulate materials such as powders, beads, crystals, and granulations. This industry leading equipment ensures precise incremental layering that minimizes the potential risk of agglomeration between particles, and has the ability to tackle complex drug release problems. Wurster coaters atomize these coating solutions or suspended particle flows and reduce air velocity and distribution. This process allows each individual particle to circulate fully throughout a state-of-the-art coating chamber without the risk of destruction; resulting in superior performance every time.

Patent Highlights

The control systems installed on the Wurster coating fluid beds at Frontida's Aurora, IL site are not only flexible in their ability to manage critical scaling, and solvent coating, but also possess data collection capabilities that are unique to Frontida BioPharm, Inc. The original inventors of 5 unique patents and processes issued to Fluid Air continue to work for Frontida, resulting in an unparalleled level of quality in Wurster coating and fluid bed manufacturing. Often, contract manufacturers use converted pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, purpose built to manufacture specific products. Frontida’s Aurora site is exceptional in that it was designed and built first and foremost as a contract manufacturing facility. Capable of accommodating varied product specifications. Where standard fluid beds are designed only to fulfill general needs regarding lift size, air handling conditions, and liquid application, Frontida's equipment was designed with expanded capabilities beyond standard CDMO industry abilities.


Frontida's Wurster coating technologies were built to accommodate some of the most extreme process requirements Fluid Air had encountered while servicing their global customer base. As a result, Frontida’s Wurster coater process blower is scaled to nearly 60% larger than any other of its size; Frontida's fluid beds have the ability to lift much denser materials than typical, allowing larger batch sizes and therefore economies of scale. Additionally, Frontida's Wurster equipment can handle significantly higher inlet temperatures, and significantly lower dewpoint temperatures beyond standard designs, providing quality reassurance that even exotic processes can be handled at the site. All of Frontida’s development and commercial equipment is highly automated, and our fluid beds collect 110 different data points every 10 seconds of processing time. This information is then available for both engineering and development teams, providing dynamic insights that optimize the drug development process.