Date Published: April 14, 2020
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Author(s): Jing Huang, Vasileios Koutsos, Norbert Radacsi.
Here, we report on the inexpensive fabrication of an electrospray/electrospinning setup by fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing and provide the files and parameters needed to print this versatile device. Both electrospray and electrospinning technologies are widely used for pharmaceutical, healthcare and bioengineering applications. The setup was designed to be modular, thus its parts can be exchanged easily. The design provides a safe setup, ensuring that the users are not exposed to the high voltage parts of the setup. PLA, PVA, and a thermoplastic elastomer filament were used for the 3D printing. The filament cost was $100 USD and the rig was printed in 6 days. An Ultimaker 3 FDM 3D printer was used with dual print heads, and the PVA was used as a water-soluble support structure. The end part of the setup had several gas channels, allowing a uniform gas flowing against the direction of the nanoparticles/nanofibers, enhancing the drying process by enhancing the evaporation rate. The setup was tested in both electrospray and electrospinning modes successfully. Both the .sldprt and .stl files are provided for free download.
Nanotechnology has emerged as a state-of-the-art tool for biomedical applications and has attracted biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries during recent decades . Electrohydrodynamic atomization (EHDA) is a popular technique for producing nano-sized objects by applying high voltage for applications in the biomedical field. Both electrospray ionization deposition and electrospinning techniques are based on the EHDA technique.
The electrospray/electrospinning setup was assembled as shown in Fig. 2. The chamber consisted of four main parts: a safety cap, a nozzle holder, a central chamber part, an end part with gas channels and stands to keep the setup in place. Either a stationary rod collector or a rotating drum collector was used to collect the nanoparticles/nanofibers (Fig. 2 shows the rotating drum collector). PVA was used as support material during printing the parts with complex structures, e.g. the safety cap, the larger nozzle holding part, the chamber and the end part. After a part with PVA support was printed, 30 °C water was used to dissolve the PVA in a water bath. It took approximately 24 h to fully dissolve the PVA at this temperature. All the larger parts were printed with a sheet of paper attached to the open front part of the Ultimaker 3 printer, in order to reduce the temperature fluctuations during the 3D printing process. The rig shown in Fig. 2 was printed in 6 days, with the filaments costing $100 USD.
Fig. 2Electrospray/electrospinning chamber CAD drawing with the rotating drum collector present
3D printing offers a low-cost way to manufacture easily a safe and reliable experimental setup that is similar to the commercial ones. This paper presented a method for 3D printing a modular electrospray/electrospinning setup using an inexpensive FDM 3D printer. Both electrospray and electrospinning techniques are widely used for drug delivery, tissue engineering, biosensing, or replica molding applications in the recent years. PLA, PVA and thermoplastic elastomer filaments were used for the 3D printing process, with filaments costing only $100 USD. An Ultimaker 3 printer (with dual print heads) was employed and the PVA was used as water-soluble support. The electrospray/electrospinning rig was printed in less than a week. Due to the modular nature of the setup, the parts can be exchanged easily, offering easy configuration for different applications. The cap part had several gas channels, allowing a uniform gas flowing against the direction of the nanoparticles/nanofibers, enhancing the evaporation rate. The setup was tested in both electrospray and electrospinning modes successfully. However ABS, PEEK, or ceramic materials would be recommended for 3D printing the central chamber part in order to increase the chemical resistivity. Both the .sldprt and .stl files are provided for download.