Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
Researchers from Cambridge, USA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have effectively utilized a less expensive commercially available 3-D printer to develop a nozzle microfluidic device to produce nanofibers.
3-D printed microfluidic device enables to get uniform nanofibers providing flexibility with regard to the structure of the webs. Luis Fernando Velasquez-Garcia of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories and his two postdocs have reported this development in the latest issue of journal, Nanotechnology.
According to researchers, using 3-D printed device to produce nanofibers will help to avoid the need for cleanroom and will make the process cheaper. The technique uses emitters or nozzles which have holes made through them and hydraulically the fluid to be electrospun, is poured into the holes until holes are full. Then only, electric field is applied to develop nanowebs. The authors term this procedure as “internally fed.”
Nanofibers are produced basically by controlled chaos which in a way leads to variability in fiber size and less uniformity of the web. In other words, there is some sort of “self-assembling,” process when the fibers are dispersed by electric field and collected on collectors such as screens. Patters are obtained based on the nature of the collector.
A few years back, ThandavamoorthySubbiah working in this scribe’s laboratory effectively handled the self-assembly process to develop honeycomb like PU nanofibers.Nanofiber production techniques are evolving to have high productivity and have better control of the fiber and web uniformity.The 3-D device is a step in the right direction.