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Formulating in the real world

The art and science of resilient, repeatable formulas



The R&D lab is as close as it gets to ideal conditions. But formulas don’t get manufactured in ideal conditions. A formulator who knows about actual manufacturing conditions up front can work with that reality—rather than against it.

A Solu-Tech principle is that formulas must be resilient and repeatable. That means making sure that a formula’s chemical principles will work with the mechanical principles of the manufacturing line. Only then can a formula be reproduced, over and over, at scale.


A formula’s chemical principles must work with the mechanical principles of the manufacturing line. Only then can a formula be reproduced, over and over, at scale.

A formula that worked at a large manufacturer may not directly translate to other environments. Some ingredients (like natural, food grade preservatives) don’t perform in every manufacturing situation.


That’s why formulation should always start from the broadest possible understanding of chemical principles and related techniques. Techniques like one-pot manufacturing and cold processing are sometimes better than investing in more equipment. If your manufacturing line can’t easily fill a particular bottle, why formulate for it?


My time at 3M gave me a foundation of formulating for drugs, controlled delivery products, adhesives, paints, and coatings. When I came to cosmetics and personal care, those basic principles for assembling products and issues of reactivity gave me a deeper set of formulating options. Lean manufacturing and Baldridge quality principles added to my toolkit. Working with sales and marketing put me in the trenches with consumer needs and satisfaction. It’s a unique set of experiences that most formulators never get.


It’s easy to stay isolated in the lab, making perfect formulas that work under lab conditions but fail the test of manufacturing reality. We all know what can go wrong when formulation and manufacturing are disconnected, right down to a finished product losing characteristics that are its very selling points.


And we all know that thrill of a product coming off the line looking exactly as designed—when that spark of innovation becomes something you can hold in your hand. It’s an exciting business moment when the work of so many people turns into the real thing. Solu-Tech is here for it.

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