Effect of manufacturing conditions on the formation of double-walled polymer microspheres

J Microencapsul. Mar-Apr 1999;16(2):153-67. doi: 10.1080/026520499289149.


This paper discusses the optimization of the solvent evaporation process to produce double-walled (DW) microspheres in a single-step. Five process variables were studied: polymer solution concentration, polymer weight ratio, polymer solution volume ratios, encapsulation temperature, and air flow rate across the top of the encapsulation vessel. The effects of these variables on the process efficiency (defined here as the percentage of microspheres with a DW configuration compared to the total number of microspheres) were examined. Total polymer concentrations of less than 20% (w/v) produced microspheres with high efficiency, with phase separation consistent across all size fractions in each batch. Changing the volume ratio of the two polymer solutions had no significant effect on the process efficiency. The weight ratio of the polymers greatly influenced the process efficiency, resulting in a low 63% efficiency for the 1:3 Poly-L-lactide (PLLA): Poly(carboxyphenoxypropane-co-sebacic)anhydride 20:80 (P(CPP:SA 20:80)) weight ratio and 0% for the 3:1 weight ratio. The 1:3 weight ratio also caused the polymers to reverse their orientation, although the efficiency for this switch was still relatively low. The temperature of the non-solvent bath affected the efficiency of certain pairs of polymers, but not all. The PLLA/Poly(lactide-co-glycolide) 50:50 (PLGA) pair was most sensitive to temperature, due to the chemical similarity of the two polymers which narrowed the range of acceptable conditions for encapsulation. Pairs of polymers which phase separated readily (e.g. polystyrene and PLLA) were the least sensitive to temperature changes. Process yield and size distribution show no clear trends with respect to air flow rate across the top of the reaction vessel. The efficiency of the process to produce DW microspheres increased and the process time decreased with increasing air flow across the surface of the encapsulation vessel.

MeSH terms

  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods*
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning Transmission
  • Microspheres*
  • Molecular Weight
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Solvents
  • Temperature


  • Polymers
  • Solvents