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Content archived on 2024-06-16

Advanced, multi-functional fibres for novel textiles

Final Activity Report Summary - AMTEX (Advanced, multifunctional fibres for novel textiles)

Electrospinning provides an excellent preparation method for the manufacturing of polymer fibres with defined diameter. Controlling however, the overall porosity of the resulting fibre assemblies, particular with higher porosities, has remained challenging when using the more conventional electrospinning method. With our recently advanced low temperature electrospinning techniques, which we further developed within the Marie Curie Programme, allows controlling the 3D-architecture of the resulting non-woven structure.

During the Marie Curie Programme, we found that the mesh porosity of such electrospun structures can be significantly increased by embedding ice particles during fibre deposition. These then act as void spacers within the meshes produced permitting fabrication of highly porous structures ideal for tissue engineering applications. Our study also shows that the actual fibre stiffness offers a reliable tool for controlling the over-all mesh porosity, whilst air temperature and the ratio of amount of ice crystals / amount of electrospun material seem to have a smaller effect on the final architectures realised.

In addition, we evaluated the possibility to integrate functional nano- and microparticles into such electrospun architectures. Thereby we focused on biomedical textiles, with the main goal to realize highly bioactive structures. To this end, we spun poly(lactic acid-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)/ amorphous tricalcium phosphate (ATCP) composites that showed significant deposition of a hydroxyapatite (HAp) layer already after 14 days immersion in simulated body fluid on the surface such fibrous PLGA/ATCP composites.

Cleary - and in stark contrast to many other spinning and non-woven fabrication techniques that are restricted to certain profiles and designs - our work performed within the Marie-Curie Programme illustrates that electro-spinning provides us with significant freedom with respect to the shapes, structures, which can be realised in the final product independent of the ultimate use (biomedical, functional textiles, etc), as well as the materials combination (e.g. inorganic components/polymer matrix) that can be utilised. Despite this progress, we like, though, to emphasise that we are only at the beginning to learn how to exploit this versatile processing method.