Electrospinning and microfabrics: science beyond the human body

The electrospinning is a technique that allows the spinning of microfibers at nanometric scale, that is to say inferior to a micron. This is achieved from a solution of polymers that under the effect of a voltage difference is projected on a surface on which the dry fibers adhere as tissue.

The principle is quite simple and has recently gained interest thanks to its versatility, efficiency and economy. The technique allows processing a wide variety of polymers that can be manipulated to achieve particular characteristics such as: high specific surface, controllable and interconnected porosity, high mechanical performance, and other properties. The entanglement between the fibres, once the solvent has evaporated, is what makes it possible to obtain different results.

The possibilities of designing robust, lightweight and mechanically stable materials opens up a wide range of applications. Applications are currently being developed in textile engineering, pharmaceuticals, medicine, environmental engineering, textiles, filter technology, batteries, sensors and more.

Nanotechnology for life

At present, laboratories and universities are developing new materials thanks to the use of an industrial electrospinning machine in their studies. The most important and promising results in these areas are related to the generation of scaffolds.

Scaffolds are structures designed to cause cellular interactions that allow the formation of new tissues on them. What is fascinating is that their properties allow them to efficiently imitate the extracellular matrix and thus allow the adhesion of the tissues in an effective way. The cells ‘seeded’ into these structures are capable of supporting three-dimensional tissue formation and adapt to different anatomical requirements for cartilage, vascular grafts, dental implants, nerves or skin regeneration.

In the same order of importance, applications have been found in the pharmaceutical industry, because its high porosity allows drugs to encapsulate and maintain controlled release levels that replace oral or intravenous intake. When applied in very specific regions it avoids the side effects of drugs on other tissues. This type of mesh applications on wounds or burns allows better absorption and benefits healing.

A world to discover

Although this technique was originally developed for application in the textile industry, a large number of solutions are now being developed beyond biotechnology.  Great progress has been made in both the environmental and energy sectors. Companies such as Bioinicia have promoted this process, thanks to the technological support it provides at an industrial level to those who wish to explore this field,  and this is just the tip of the iceberg.