Electrospinning is an established technique for the manufacture of fibrous components for medical devices. During electrospinning, a viscous solution is fed through a needle using a syringe pump. A high voltage of up to 30,000 volts is applied to a needle, ejecting a thin jet of the solution. The jet accelerates towards a target collector held at an opposite potential and thins considerably during flight. Dried fibres are deposited as a non-woven mat, with individual fibres being about 10 to 100 times thinner than the width of a human hair. Electrospun fibres can be used as simple mats and cut to shape with fibres of random, aligned or layered orientation. The technique also allows for the manufacturing of more specific structures like tubes or the coating of complex geometries. Different polymers can be used for this process resulting in permanent or resorbable devices as well as ones with opaque or transparent appearance. The Electrospinning Company is a globally leading manufacturer of electrospun biomaterials for medical devices that can be used in a variety of clinical applications.
The advantages of electrospinning are the ability to tailor polymer, architecture and structure to create nanofibre and microfibre materials suitable for different therapeutic applications.
- Fibres mimic the natural extracellular matrix and provide an ideal substrate for adherent cells.
- Synthesis from a range of medical-grade, biocompatible polymers which elicit minimal immune response.
- Designed to degrade to non-toxic products over periods of 2 weeks to 3 years, or not to degrade at all.
- Mechanical properties including strength and elasticity tailored to target implantation sites.
- Fibres oriented in different alignments to promote the growth and differentiation of different cell types.
- Porous architecture (>80-95%) facilitates cell infiltration and nutrient exchange.
A wide range of synthetic and natural polymers can be used as starting materials. Choice of polymer and solvents influences mechanical properties, such as stiffness and elasticity, as well as degradation rate. At The Electrospinning Company, where possible, we use raw materials from approved (GMP) suppliers with regulatory masterfiles.
- Commonly used synthetic polymers include: Poly Lactides (PLA); Poly Lactide Glycolides (PLGA); Poly Caprolactone (PCL); Poly(lactide-co-caprolactone) (PLCL); Polyurethanes; Polyacrylonitrile (PAN).
- Biological raw materials such as collagen can be electrospun on their own or blended with synthetic polymers to optimise mechanical properties and cell interactions.
- Architecture: Random non-woven scaffolds, highly aligned fibre membranes and combination scaffolds
- Fibre diameter: a few hundred nanometres to around ten micrometres
- Porosity: 80-95% porosity
- Thickness: Up to around 4 mm thick
- Format: Flat sheets cut mechanically or by laser or 3D shapes
Innovation in Electrospun Biomaterials
Up to 2013 more than 1,891 patents using the term “electrospinning ” and 2,960 with the term“nanofibers” according to the European Patent Office at title or abstract had been filed around the world, while 11,973 electrospinning documents and 18,679 nanofibers-related (mainly manuscripts) were published considering the Scopus database with the same terms in the title, abstract or using keywords. (A Literature Investigation about Electrospinning and Nanofibers: Historical Trends, Current Status and Future Challenge. Marcio Luis Ferreira Nascimento, Evando Santos Araújo, Erlon Rabelo Cordeiro, Ariadne Helena Pequeno de Oliveira, Helinando Pequeno de Oliveira. Recent Patents on nanotechnology, 2015, 9,000-000)