Electrospinning of Continuous and Aligned Nanofibers.

An electrospinning method for the continuous production of highly aligned nanofibers and quasi-isotropic preforms

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Background.

Electrospinning of polymers from the melt or solution is a simple but versatile technique to produce nano and micro-fibers. It allows good control over the fiber diameter and surface finish. Electrospinning has been used for manufacturing non-woven mats, solid and hollow fibers and twisted yarns. In the context of strength and stiffness of the electrospun preforms, a key requirement is fiber alignment and compact packing (high fiber volume fraction).

A number of techniques have been demonstrated previously to manufacture highly aligned nanofiber preforms, for example, using parallel electrodes or rotating mandrels to collect the fibers. However, those techniques do not achieve continuous manufacturing of preforms for structural and device applications where the aligned fibers can be extracted as a sheet, prepreg, ribbon or roll.

  • The electrospinning technology and equipment developed by researchers from the University of Birmingham is capable of: (producing continuous and aligned nanofibers on a demountable substrate;
  • the nanofibers can be deposited continuously at zero and/or any angle between zero and ninety degrees – in other words, quasi-isotropic fiber preforms can be manufactured without a need for layer-by-layer lamination.

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