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Rapid prototyping of a miniaturized Electrospinning setup for the production of polymer nanofibers

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ABSTRACT

Fabrication of polymeric micro/nanofibers with controllable size, density, orientation, and composition is required for their translation into functional devices and materials. Electrospinning (ES) is a frequently used fiber fabrication technique, where ES parameters such as the applied electric field strength, architecture of the setup, and solution composition are manipulated to control the fiber properties. Here, we present a bench-top method for fabricating miniaturized, integrated, and highly tunable ES setups based on shrinkable polymer substrates. We show that using a combination of numerical modeling and controlling different parameters in the ES setup, including the spinneret to collector distance, and spinneret and collector designs, it is possible to tune the density, alignment, and orientation of electrospun fibers. In this way, we have produced 300–600 nm wide poly(ethylene oxide) fibers arranged as nonwoven mats on planar electrodes, aligned fibers on electrode edges, and individual suspended fibers spanning gaps between collector electrodes. The ability to rapidly prototype ES setups should enable us to study the effects of spinneret–collector configurations on fiber morphology, distribution, and conformation and to aid in the development of miniaturized ES setups designed to serve specific applications. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40629.

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