An organisation has developed a technique to produce 3-dimensional fibrous structure material by electrospinning technique. It uses a rotational liquid collector that is connected to the electrical ground, which enhances the fibre dispersion, controls its orientation and homogeneity. The technique has fabricated fibrous structure made up of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) respectively. Generally, there are no limitations on the type of polymeric materials that can be developed into such 3-dimensional nanofiber structures by adapting this technique.
The fibre diameter, porosity and alignment can be controlled during the 3-dimensional nanofiber fabrication in order to achieve the ideal specification for application. This technique allows the nanofiber to be used directly without sterilisation, as the solvent used for production can be evaporated easily. The diameter of the nanofibers is controlled by the conductivity of polymeric materials and the solvent used. Even though the fabrication process does not require the introduction of additive into the polymeric materials, introducing additives is still viable to improve the conductivity of the polymeric materials to achieve a thinner nanofiber diameter. The thickness and shape of the structure is controlled by post-process fibre suspension in a designed mould and the porosity of the bulk volume nanofibers is controlled by simple compression in the process. Lastly, the alignment of the fibre is controlled by adjusting the liquid rotation speed during processing.
The fibrous material can be used for (but not limited to) the following fields:
The global market for nanofiber products was worth $80.7 million in 2009, and is estimated to reach $101.5 million by the end of 2010. The market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.3% through 2015, and at a 37.2% CAGR from 2015 through 2020, reaching nearly $2.2 billion in total revenues by 2020 (Nanofibers, 2010).
Global nanofibers market is anticipated to witness strong growth on account of increasing applications in filtration, transportation, mining, military and construction industries. Increasing adoption of nanofibers in the electronics industry is further fuelling market development (Grandview research, GV1668).
Electro-spun materials are promising scaffolds due to their light-weight, high surface-area and low-cost fabrication. The 3-dimensional nano-fibrous structure produce significantly larger surface area and higher porosity as compared to conventional 2-dimensional nanofibers. These are more feasible to be applied directly as a functional part as compared to 2-dimensional nanofiber sheet. This material fabrication method overcome the limitation of traditional electrospinning method to fabricate nanofibers in three dimensional.