By Dale Natoli
If your business is in the tablet compression industry, then you are most likely using tablet compression tooling of the standard "B" and or "D" configuration, regardless of the country you are in. Tablet compression tooling is often referred to as tooling, or more commonly, punches and dies. Tools to compress bulk materials into a solid form to preserve, store, transport, and distribute materials have been used for hundreds of years. But in the late 1800s, Frank J. Stokes designed, engineered, and commercially produced the rotary tablet press using the same basic "B" and "D" type tool configuration that we know today. This configuration is the most common and is recognized internationally. Unfortunately, there are two types of B and D tooling; the American standard known as the TSM standard and the European standard known as the EU, or "Euronorm" standard. These two configurations are so similar that only a trained eye can distinguish them. Yet they are different enough that the two configurations cannot be interchanged.
To better understand the differences between the American and European tool configurations, it is helpful to know a little about tooling history. In the early 1900s, Stokes commercially mass produced the rotary tablet press using the common B and D type tool configuration. The Stokes tablet press was so successful that Stokes distributed tablet presses to practically every industrialized nation, soon making the Stokes tablet press the most common press in the world. Stokes contracted with the English company Thompson and Capper to manufacture the Stokes tablet press and tooling, which gave Stokes a more strategic European position. At some point, due to economic and political pressure, Stokes was forced to abandon its alliance with Thompson and Capper and concentrated manufacturing at its main facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.