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Development of research electrospinning machines

Nick Tucker 1Jon J. Stanger 1Neil Buunk 2Mark Staiger 3Roger J. Reeves 4Nigel G. Larsen 1

1. The New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research Ltd (CFR), Private Bag 4704, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
2. Electrospinz Ltd (ESP), 44 Lee St, Blenheim 8140, New Zealand
3. Dept. mechanical Engineering, University Canterbury (ME-UOC), Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
4. Department of Physics and Astronomy, The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, Christchurch, New Zealand


Electrostatic attraction of liquids was first observed by William Gilbert in 1628, and attempts were made to commercialise the process in the 1900s and 1930s. In the late 1960s the physics of thread formation were described. More recently electrospinning has emerged as a ready way to produce nanoscale polymer fibres. This poster describes the development of a laboratory scale electrospinning machine and some preliminary results concerning the manufacture of composites from biodegradable and bio-origin materials.

At the laboratory scale the typical machine uses a syringe pump to provide a constant volume flow rate feed with the whole apparatus housed inside a protective enclosure, whilst this setup is certainly effective, it only allows limited access to the apparatus during operation and is intrinsically a batch process. To produce significant quantities of material, it is necessary to devise a continuous process. If the machine is to be used in a research laboratory it is necessary to allow provision for modification to the machine. The machine described uses a constant head device to feed the spinning tip (a standard micropipette tip). The use of this type of constant pressure device allows the user to establish a stable meniscus for the formation of the Taylor cone, and the consequent drawing of fibre, the rate of meniscus replenishment is automatically matched to rate of fibre removal. The machine operates with dual polarity. This allows the user to explore the charge carrying ability of subject materials, and to charge the target rather than the spinning tip; a charged target may be required if spinning from a melt rather than a solution.

A passive method for producing orientated fibres is also described.


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Related papers

Presentation: Poster at E-MRS Fall Meeting 2008, Symposium F, by Nick Tucker
See On-line Journal of E-MRS Fall Meeting 2008

Submitted: 2008-05-29 05:33
Revised:   2009-06-07 00:48