Multi-methodological investigation of the variability of the microstructure of HPMC hard capsules

E. Faulhammer, A. Kovalcik, V. Wahl, D. Markl, F. Stelzer, S. Lawrence, J. G. Khinast, A. Paudel

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The objective of this study was to analyze differences in the subtle microstructure of three different grades of HMPC hard capsule shells using mechanical, spectroscopic, microscopic and tomographic approaches. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), vibrational spectroscopic, X-Ray scattering techniques as well as environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) were used. Two HPMC capsules manufactured via chemical gelling, one capsule shell manufactured via thermal gelling and one thermally gelled transparent capsule were included. Characteristic micro-structural alterations (associated manufacturing processes) such as mechanical and physical properties relevant to capsule performance and processability were thoroughly elucidated with the integration of data obtained from multi-methodological investigations. The physico-chemical and physico-mechanical data obtained from a gamut of techniques implied that thermally gelled HPMC hard capsule shells could offer an advantage in terms of machinability during capsule filling, owing to their superior micro- and macroscopic structure as well as specifically the mechanical stability under dry or humid conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-854
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2016


  • DMA-RH
  • HPMC capsules
  • material characterization
  • microstructural properties
  • physicochemical properties
  • processability

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