Drug Delivery and Translational Research

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 1238–1253 | Cite as

Pressure and stress transients in autoinjector devices

  • Jean-Christophe VeilleuxEmail author
  • Joseph E. Shepherd
Original Article


Spring-actuated autoinjectors delivering viscous drug solutions resulting from large drug concentrations require large spring forces which can create high peak pressures and stresses within syringes. The high peak pressures and stresses can lead to device failure. Measurements with a suite of novel instrumentation and analysis using numerical simulation explain the peak pressures and peak stresses as originating from mechanical impacts between moving components, the large acceleration of the components, and surprisingly, the production of tension waves in the liquid resulting in cavitation. The presence and intensity of cavitation depend on relative timing between the pressurization and the acceleration of the syringe, which, in turn, depend on the size and location of an air gap inside the syringe. We show that production of localized but very high pressures can result from shock wave focusing in the conical section of the syringe.


Autoinjector Viscous drug solution High-concentration drug solution Pressure waves Stress waves Cavitation Shock focusing 



We would like to thank Julian Jazayeri for his help in performing some of the experiments. We would also like to thank Julian Jazayeri and Dr. Bruce Eu for their support and fruitful discussions.

Funding information

This work is sponsored by Amgen through the Caltech-Amgen Research Collaboration Agreement for Chem-Bio-Engineering Awards.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

J.C. Veilleux is listed as a co-author on a U.S. patent application related to the content of this work. J.E. Shepherd is listed as a co-author on a U.S. patent application related to the content of this work, and has consulted for Amgen in 2014 and 2015.


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Copyright information

© Controlled Release Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Aerospace LaboratoriesCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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