Melt Electrowriting (MEW)

Electrostatic spinning (electrospinning) is the draws fibers using electrical instabilities and is increasingly used to make filters, textiles and tissue engineering scaffolds. The vast majority of researchers use solution electrospinning, while only a fraction investigate melts (1, 2). In general, electrospinning has not been considered an additive manufacturing technique, although near-field electrospinning is well recognized in the electrospinning community. In Würzburg, we use translating collectors to electrowrite defined structures which opens up new possibilities for many applications (3).

Melt Electrowriting (MEW) allows not just the rapid solidification of an electrified jet, it permits the stacking of fibers to cm lengths. MEW is solvent-free, and GMP-manufactured polymers can be processed as received. As an additive manufacturing process, it allows such design principles to manufacture new, orderly microstructures (4, 5).

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SEM images of 3D melt printed PCL deposited in 120 degree turns taken at A) low magnification and B) higher magnification. C) SEM image of 3D melt printed PCL deposited in 90-degree turns.

The possibilities are endless – we can produce new complex structures that can be used in a multitude of tissue engineering applications. Reproducible, accurate and continuous – the Wuerzburg MEW machines are running 24/7 to make exciting new products for medicine.

References

  1. Dalton PD, Vaquette C, Farrugia B, Dargaville TR, Brown TD, Hutmacher DW. Electrospinning and Additive Manufacturing: Converging Technologies. Biomaterials Science, 1, 171.
  2. Hutmacher DW & Dalton PD (2011) Melt Electrospinning. Chem Asian J, 6, 44-56.
  3. Brown TD, Dalton PD, Hutmacher DW. (2011) Direct Writing by Way of Melt Electrospinning. Advanced Materials, 23, 5651-57.
  4. Brown TD, Slotosch A, Thibaudeau L, Taubenberger A, Loessner D, Vaquette C, Dalton PD, Hutmacher DW. (2012) Design and fabrication of tubular scaffolds by direct writing in a melt electrospinning mode. Biointerphases, 7, 13, DOI 10.1007/s13758-011-0013-7.
  5. Farrugia B, Brown TD, Hutmacher DW, Upton Z, Dalton PD, Dargaville TR (2013) Dermal fibroblast infiltration of poly(ε–caprolactone) scaffolds fabricated by melt electrospinning in a direct writing mode. Biofabrication, 5, 025001.