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Laser Drilling of Pharmaceutical Packaging: Positive Controls for CCIT

Quality and Traceability of Calibrated Micro Holes down to 2µm in Positive Control Packages for Container Closure Integrity Testing (CCIT)

Leak testing is a critical part of any drug packaging line.  Pharmaceutical standards such as USP 1207 and EU Annex 1 require deterministic leak testing of packages, as well as confirmation that leak testing equipment is functioning properly.  These processes, often known as CCIT (Container Closure Integrity Testing), require positive controls or certified leak defects for test method development and validation.

Most companies are focused on implementing CGMP – current Good Manufacturing Practice – in all of their validation processes.  While there is much focus on leak test equipment, whether it be legacy equipment for vacuum decay and dye ingress leak testing, or newer leak test equipment such as laser headspace analysis or high voltage leak detection (HVLD) systems, it is important not to forget the requirement for good positive controls with calibrated leaks.  Positive controls ensure that your leak testers are working properly, and that the testers are able to find even the most challenging leak artefacts whether it’s in their vial, for example, or the secondary packaging surrounding the vial.

Positive controls or calibrated leaks are created by drilling a known, measured micro hole in a package.  These are used in the production process by defining the maximum allowable leak limit (MALL) and thereby providing deterministic proof that the leak tester is operating properly.

Oxford Lasers’ micromachining systems have been designed and built to machine a wide range of materials, including glass, plastics and metals. We are able to laser drill micro holes from 2µm to 100µm (and larger) into our customers’ samples to create calibrated positive control packages that are then placed into their quality control process for validation of their integrity testing system.  

When direct laser drilling into materials is not required, or not practical, Oxford Lasers provides precision pinhole stainless steel discs with certified holes down to 2µm. These precision-drilled pinhole discs can be affixed to packaging such as blister packs, plastic vials, and IV bags, sealing over a larger less precise hole that can be created by conventional piercing methods in the pack or container.

Employing the industry demands in current good manufacturing practices, Oxford Lasers currently supplies micron scale holes for CCIT and leak testing to pharmaceutical manufacturers, leak test equipment OEMs, as well as pharmaceutical and medical process consultants throughout the world.  We are a leader in precision laser-drilling of positive control packages used for test method development and validation.  Contact us today to help you with your CCIT positive control needs.

Confidence and Traceability: Certificates of Conformity are provided using either optical microscopy or flow effective diameter (FED) measurements. Our equipment is calibrated to national reference standards ensuring that you have a robust audit trail for full traceability of your CCIT method validation and QC batch release samples all the way from development through to full-scale production. 

Registered Supplier: Find us as a pre-qualified supplier to the pharmaceutical and scientific industries on the digital marketplace Check out our supplier profile.

Types of Packaging We Laser Drill

We laser drill all primary and secondary packaging over a variety of categories, forms and materials.

  • Vials and bottles (glass and polymers including cryogenic materials)
  • Syringes (all formats including luer lock and slip tip hubs)
  • Autoinjector PFI syringes and cartridges
  • Ampoules
  • IV bags
  • Laminate pouches
  • Blister packs

Types of Material

  • Glass
  • Polymers
  • Metals


  • Glass and metals including stainless steel pinhole discs: Laser drilling of samples with hole size down to 2µm (6×10-4 cm3/s per USP 1207)
  • Polymers: Direct laser drilling of samples with hole size down to 5µm (with option of pinhole discs down to 2µm)
  • Leak detection index classification 3 to 6

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